A mid-century modern design classic is remastered for the modern era.
Alex Eagle is obsessed with timelessness, a philosophy that extends to the
clothes she designs, the collaborations she directs, the fashion she wears and
the furniture in her house.
“Good design lasts forever,” she says, and it is this appreciation of excellence that has led not only to her Soho loft being filled with a collection of mid-century modern masterpieces, but also to her latest exclusive collaboration with renowned Danish design house Paustian on Philip Arctander’s iconic Muslingestolen or Arctander Chair.
Known for its soft, inviting form, buttoned body and rounded legs, the Arctander chair is aptly named. It comes in a range of colours and fabrics from pillar-box red felt to fluffy white sheepskin, and with the option of curved armrests. For her exclusive chair, Eagle has chosen a mustard velvet fabric from the Kvadrat/Raf Simons upholstery collection.
Up until 2013, the history of the Arctander chair was a mystery, unknown even to the Arctander family. Born in 1916, Philip had trained as an architect, but the outbreak of the second world war had put a halt to building projects so he had moved into furniture design, creating a collection for the store Nyt I Bo that included the Arctander chair.
However, his undercover work as a freedom fighter got him arrested by the Nazis in 1944 and put in prison for the remainder of the war. Emerging a year later, he set aside commercial furniture design for good, choosing instead to work for the Danish Building Research Institute and advising the UN on the reconstruction of cities in the aftermath of war.
The Alex Eagle x Paustian collaboration marks a lovely moment for this classic piece. For Eagle, it is a design saga coming full circle. “An Arctander Chair was the first piece of mid-century modern furniture I bought for my house,” she says. “It was the start of my collection, and represents everything I love about that period. It’s cheeky, colourful, cheerful, a classic in every sense. I leapt at the chance to work with Sofie and Paustian to usher it into a new era, and introduce it to a new generation.”
He never spoke about his wartime work so it came as a surprise to Philip’s granddaughter Sofie when she was contacted by the head of the Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen in 2013 and asked if Philip might be the man responsible for the chair. Some research accredited it to him, and prompted Sofie to relaunch the design, in collaboration with design house Paustian.
For Sofie, it is a chance to see her grandfather’s design aesthetic gain international recognition after so long under wraps. “He had a very playful and creative approach to design,” she says. “There had to be colours, it had to be vibrant, it had to be authentic. Everything he did was focused on creating things that made sense for the people who lived there, rather than just design for design’s sake.”