Kiasma chair by Vesa Honkonen


Stockholm Design Week: architect Vesa Honkonen launched the Kiasma chair for Swedish manufacturer Källemo at the Stockholm Furniture Fair last week.

The assymetrical chairs were designed for for the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland.

They will be installed in the museum café, and will replace those designed by Steven Holl ten years ago. Honkonen assisted Holl with the design for the original chairs.

Honkonen has provided us with the original sketches, drawings and photos of development prototypes for the Kiasma chair.

See our earlier story on Honkonen's Heinola Reading Lights. The following text is from Honkonen:


In 2008, Kiasma Café’s original chairs designed by Steven Holl, become 10 years old. This chair has a strong character and it has been an important part of Kiasma’s image. However, ten years is a long time for café chairs.

I had personally assisted Steven in making these chairs come true. It was a long process with some artists, boat makers and casting experts helping us. Average lifespan for a café chair is about 5 – 6 years, so in 2007 it was time to create something new.

I got permission to design the chairs and develop them together with Swedish furniture manufacturer Källemo. Steven Holl gave me one piece of advice, “Light passing through the chairs is important”.

I started to make sketches as cartoons, since I did not want to force the form to become visible too soon. I wanted to first find the essence, the soul of this chair. With these cartoons, where the emptiness is talking with a person, the chair found its form.

It became clear that the chair itself is the light and the leg that represents the earth, holds it.

The form wanted to have movement as well. Asymmetry started to take over. It was interesting to follow this path. Few times during this process, I was forced to change the form I had found.

These discussions with emptiness guided me always to a new form, which also followed the origin of the chair. The leg became one continuous line moving through space, holding the light in its hands.

During this process I became more and more convinced that in design, in giving form, the form itself is not so important. It is what is behind the form, the origin telling the story. It is about movement, space in between.

Posted on Tuesday February 12th 2008 at 3:36 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • eyeontheworld

    A reputation is something on which to rely and to be relied upon. Sadly in this instance I feel, it has been a let down.
    The current Kiasma cafe chair is a bold, feminine statement in simplistic design. A soft pastel green seat, allowing an almost frosted glaze of ambient light to pass through when positioned correctly, wraps snugly around tapering, angular legs. The chair induces a near compulsive desire to sit, to feel the contours of the chair against the back of the leg, its erogenous in its make up. Initially subtle and understated within its environment, its cult status is a direct result of its functionality through exquisite design.
    In order to update a classic, one need to appreciate the original as it was and not what it went on to become.
    The modern version is harsh, lacking in overall uniqueness and competes too dramatically with its soon to be surroundings. Advice can, and often is a dangerous thing when given too freely, this is a prime example. “Light passing through the chairs is important”, agreed it helps create the perception of space, can assists in blending a piece with its immediate surroundings, while also highlighting its function.
    This is too acidic, too commercial, more importantly it fails to pickup on and extenuate the design attributes of the space its in.

  • kur0yi

    the emptiness entered my head. seriously, i do not understand it. as a design student, maybe the student and its teacher find reason in the developement process. but as anything that is released into public as a product to use like those chairs, noone will ever see more than some plastic/metal chairs that he by style likes or doesnt, and maybe finds practical or not. or am i wrong? how should anyone read what is “behind the form, the origin telling the story”? and most times, why should he., exept if he finds the product so amazing he want to know it.

    strange justifications ..

  • fvale

    this is design.

  • Jimmy

    This is a poor piece of design, absolutely charmless – wh acid green acrylic and tubular steel? It immediately defaults to IKEA connotations, senseless corporate flunkiness, vapid stylisation, regardless of cartoon wit justification.

  • fvale

    “IKEA connotations, senseless corporate flunkiness, vapid stylisation, regardless of cartoon wit justification.” eheh you’re funny :)