The Corona Chair EJ5 by Poul Volther & Erik Jorgensen
Danish designer Poul M. Volther First trained as a cabinetmaker and studied furniture design at the Arts and Crafts School in Copenhagen. A believer in Functionalism, he avoided short-lived aesthetic trends, concentrating on the simple crafting of quality materials, and went on to influence hundreds of young designers when he taught at the Danish Design School.
His early chair designs were based on a series of cushions separated by open spaces in order to economize on materials which were difficult to obtain after the Second World War. The first model, the Pyramid Chair from 1953, with foam and cloth elements, was far from successful. But the same basic approach eventually led to his masterpiece, the Corona Chair, first designed in 1961.
His design, for the Corona Chair is said to be so inspired by the elliptical shapes left by shadows in a time-lapse photograph of a solar eclipse.
Created to use a minimum of fabric and to utilize new foams available at the time, the rather more cumbersome looking Pyramid did not become a commercial success as the complex wooden ellipses and wood frame had to be constructed by hand. This also made the earliest designs of the Corona Chair far too expensive to have any hope of succeeding in a competitive market.
Volther met up with manufacturer Erik Jorgensen in 1964 to ask him to collaborate and the more famous metal Corona Chair came into being with its elegant brushed steel exoskeleton of two spines rising up to support steel backed oval pads filled with cold-cured polyurethane.
Working to support the body in just the right places, the Corona Chair was a slow burner in Denmark when it was launched with its brushed-steel base.
Jack Nicholson sitting on the chair playing a narcissistic bachelor expounding on every woman he had ever slept with in the film Carnal Knowledge did little to curb requests for the chair in the US, but it proved expensive to export, which put off large orders from buyers.
What could have been the ultimate Bond chair did not get major commercial recognition until the nineties when it was relaunched in 1997 at the Scandinavian Furniture Fair at Bella Centre in Copenhagen. This time it was a resounding success.
Today, with its elliptical, blow-up cushions, it has reached iconic status, becoming Jorgensen’s most successful item, with sales of almost 3,000 a year. Last seen televised in white in Roger Sterling’s office for the hit TV series Mad Men, the Corona was also used as the official chair for the heads of state at the EU summit in Copenhagen in 2002, the year after Volther died.