Carl Hansen & Søn
FSC-certified oak (FSCTM C135991) or FSC-certified mahogany (FSCTM C135991)
Leather or fabric
In 1944, Lauritzen designed a building project that was never realised, but the VLA61 Monarch Chair that he had designed for the project was produced in 10 copies. Until now, this rare chair has been a coveted collector’s item sold at auctions around the world, but with Carl Hansen & Son’s launch, it will now become available to a wider audience for the first time.
The VLA61 Monarch Chair is named after the majestic Monarch butterfly, and the name is a tribute to the architect’s keen interest in butterflies, which he diligently studied throughout his life. With its generous upholstery, curved armrests and organic, teardrop-shaped curvatures of the bars, the chair embodies an artistic expression that is light and sumptuous at the same time. Details such as the small brass feet and hand-polished joints testify to Lauritzen’s consistent design signature.
Knud Erik Hansen, CEO and third generation owner of Carl Hansen & Son, says about the launch: "With the VLA61 Monarch Chair, we have introduced another masterpiece by Vilhelm Lauritzen to Carl Hansen & Son’s extensive collection of iconic designs. Last year, we launched the Vega Chair and the Foyer Series in collaboration with Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects to mark the studio’s 100th anniversary, and the furniture has since received a great reception worldwide. We’re pleased and proud to be able to not only spread knowledge of Danish design around the world but present Lauritzen’s furniture to a global audience – in line with his democratic approach to design.”
The Monarch Chair was designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen in 1944 as one of 71 designs for a Danish sulphuric acid and superphosphate factory. The building was never built, but a few prototypes of the chair were produced at the time. We discovered it from Lauritzen’s hand drawings and from a few pictures found when we went through the archives for our studio’s 100th anniversary. The chair immediately stood out as something special, with its exquisite details that clearly reveal the essence of Lauritzen. While the late architect had a strong interest in functional design, his great love of nature is evident in the organic shape of the product. The chair is timeless – uniting the design tradition of the past with the way in which we develop furniture today.
It is fascinating to relive Lauritzen’s story in his beautiful yet timeless designs as part of our archives and bring them back to life. The Monarch Chair is a relaunch derived from a hand drawing as we never found a physical prototype of the product. We searched auctions and museums but were unable to locate one – and this has been a major challenge for us. We only had the original hand drawings, and a few photos of the chair in an unknown office setting. We can normally recreate and refine a piece of furniture based on some prototypes, as we did with both the Vega chair and the Foyer series. However, without prototypes, in the case of the Monarch Chair, an extensive amount of work was required as the product is technically complicated.
As with all Lauritzen’s designs, the Monarch Chair is extremely functional, enabling you to sit very comfortably. At the same time, it appears almost three-dimensional yet looks very different from different perspectives. This is also one of the design traits unique to Lauritzen.
The chair is complicated to produce from a technical perspective, both in the way in which the double-curved parts in the frame are assembled, and how the seat and back are upholstered. The armrest forms part of the frame while the concealed joints – which were demanding to realise – are central to the chair’s elegant look. The craftsmanship is therefore world-class. The concealed joints make it extremely strong but also mean it can be disassembled. It is a chair that is designed to last.
In the photos we found, the chair was made of either mahogany, dark stained beech or teak, and upholstered in black leather. For the relaunch, Carl Hansen & Son and our design team have worked together to achieve a look more closely linked to the Vega chair and the Foyer series, meaning that it is also more nordic in style and sustainable. We have combined oak with various kinds of natural wool fabrics and leather, giving the chair an honest aesthetic. These are genuine quality materials that patinate beautifully and fit into the Nordic architectural tradition.
When you view the chair from the front, it has an inviting shape. Its form opens up to welcome you. One special detail is the brass-plated legs. These continue up to the armrests, which open the chair towards the sitter in a perfect arc. The armrest has an organic bone shape, right where you rest your hand. The turned wood gives the chair its sleek, elegant look, which is altogether functional – contrasting with the padded seat and back.
Lauritzen is renowned for his interest in nature and its elegant, organic forms, as well as his ability to combine this with simple functionalism. We found thousands of his sketches that explored this organic look in lighting, furniture and buildings. They all have this essence of being elegant, aesthetic and functional.
We are incredibly pleased with the collaboration, where we worked together to bring new life to some of Lauritzen’s brilliant designs. Carl Hansen & Son has the expertise to produce the furniture pieces with an authentic, high level of craftsmanship, while also making them accessible to a wider audience.