We are so pleased to announce that we are carrying The Spanner Lounge Chair with Arms at Design Public. Originally created in 1950 by Russell Spanner (1916-1974), the award-winning designer’s chair has been out of production for more than 50 years. Gus*Design Group worked in collaboration with the Spanner family to revive this iconic chair, meticulously matching the materials, construction and details to the original chair.
The frame is constructed of solid birch and curved birch plywood and the seat is 100% cotton woven strapping. During the design collaboration with the Spanner family, Gus*Design Group worked hard to match the finishes (both light and dark birch) and strapping colors (choice of green, red or black strapping):
Vintage Ad for Russell Spanner's Furniture
Today we’re talking with Joran Van Lange, the designer at Gus* Design Group who acted as design and production lead for the Spanner Lounge Chair reissue, to learn more about this exciting re-release.
How did you discover the work of Russell Spanner?
I first saw his work in a design lecture while I was in school. His original designs show up occasionally here in Toronto at vintage and mid-century antique shops, so before we even knew Russell’s background story, we were familiar with the Russell Spanner “look”, which is very recognizable.
What drew you to the Spanner Chair in particular?
There’s something really positive and energetic about the lines and angles of the chair. It’s bold without being too serious.
Which leads me to, what about its mid-century design still works so well today?
The design is relevant today for the same reasons it was relevant in the 1950s. At that time, North American cities were seeing an explosion of compact, post-war homes, which needed furniture that was smaller scale. The movement toward condo and small space living in the last decade has meant that consumers are again looking for smaller, lighter furniture pieces.
Aesthetically, the chair embodies the mid-century tradition of leaving components and hardware in plain view. Nothing is hidden by panels or upholstery. There’s a transparency in that which people appreciate.
What is the history of the chair?
The Lounge Chair was designed by Russell while he was working as foreman at his family’s woodworking factory. It’s believed that he used some of the jigs and parts of other industrial products to form the basic components for the Lounge Chair. As an example, the frame for the seat shares the same proportions and joinery as the industrial battery boxes which the factory produced at the time.
Where are the reproductions produced?
We felt that because this chair was originally designed and produced in Toronto, it was important to carry on that legacy and produce the re-issue here as well.
Did you learn anything new about design and production from the process of putting the Spanner Chair back into production?
We realized once we began to dissect the original chair that there are some very sophisticated joinery details going on. Everything must be manufactured perfectly in order for the design to work.
It works beautifully.