VZOR | Past perfect

VZOR | Past perfect

VZOR steers the global interest towards a real icon of Polish design history. How niche-carving branding pushes a fizzy, extravagant mid-century armchair to a glorious tomorrow? Story about dreams, innovation, sculptural bents and powerful colours.

Written by Farkasdy Melinda

1958, Łodz, Poland. Roman Modzelewski, professor of Łodz Academy of Fine Arts designed one of the first polyester-glass armchairs of Polish design history. The applied technology and the particular homogeneous, organic form were pioneers all around the world – later Modzelewski profited by his knowledge in yacht construction.

Professor Roman Modzelewski on prototype of RM58. Photo: Private family archive of Mrs Wera Modzelewska

The designer made the prototypes in his own studio, and in after years patented the product. The seats aroused interest of the great French Master Le Corbusier, who would have been pleased to manufacture the pieces. However, his desire has never brought to fruition due to political circumstancies in Poland. (1)

Patent Photo: VZOR promotional material

Time went by, and though the chairs appeared in the set of a few films, they were rather familiar among professionals. (2) One of the surviving prototypes was acquired for the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. The snow-white, swan-like armchair was presented at the successful exhibition ’Cold War Modern: 1945-1970’, as an outstanding representative of Eastern Bloc’s design. (3)

Movie footage from the film ‘Pan Anatol szuka miliona’ (1959)

But the story is just beginning right now. In 2012, the Polish brand, VZOR decided to rethink some iconic pieces of mid-century design, starting with Modzelewski’s seat from 1958. That is how the armchair, christened to RM58 was born, which a year after won the prestigious WIN Awards in London. Chief of the judging panel was that Sir Terence Conran, who founded the Design Museum as well.

VZOR RM58 SOFT, CLASSIC and MATTE Photos: VZOR promotional material

VZOR conserved the original shape, yet slightly altered the former technology and material. Apart from the authentic colours, such as red, black, white, green and yellow the armchairs are also available in a matte version. (4)

Polish National Post – Industrial Desing Series – post stamp Photo: VZOR promotional material

Designers, attention: the brand shall include designs of prominent contemporary creators in the future, so it is worth to follow them!

Special thanks to VZOR for the admitted issues.

Notes, references:

(1) V&A, https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1156386/armchair-modzelewski-roman/ [28 April 2020]

(2) Culture.pl, https://culture.pl/en/artist/vzor [28 April 2020]

(3) V&A, https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1156386/armchair-modzelewski-roman/ [28 April 2020]

(4) Culture.pl, https://culture.pl/en/artist/vzor [28 April 2020]

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