• Norrgavels iconic Wooden armchair will finally be available in oak since autumn 2021 - so popular and long-awaited!

    Norrgavels Wooden armchair – the history

    In the early 1990s, Norrgavel's founder, Nirvan Richter, began sketching what would eventually become the Wooden armchair – one of our most beloved pieces of furniture. A majestic yet ascetically simple armchair, which in a relatively short time has become a modern furniture classic. The process of realising the vision of the Wooden armchair was a time-consuming one. Nirvan Richter carried the idea for Wooden armchair within him for years and when the first sketch was finally completed in 1992, it took another three years before the Wooden armchair was put into production.

    "The vision contained many paradoxes; an enveloping shape without a sense of confinement […]"

    "I carried the Wooden armchair inside me for several years, and from the conceptual sketch in 1992 it took another three years until production in 1995. The vision contained many paradoxes; an enveloping form without a sense of confinement, a comfortable armchair that looks ascetically simple, a powerful throne that blends discreetly into the room - large as an earlobe armchair but transparent so that you can see the walls and floors...
    In the first prototypes, the back legs angled in several planes, later in one plane and finally we managed to create completely straight back legs that shoot up like two spears from the ground. Between the back legs and the seat, the armrests form a frame that makes the chair very stable."

    – Nirvan Richter, designer

    "Since Norrgavel is guided by the idea that everything should go back to nature, all our furniture is made from natural materials."

    Production at Norrgavel is customer order-driven, which means that each piece of furniture is madefor a specific customer.The Wooden armchair is manufactured in either solid oak or beech, which is then surface treated with white oil, oil or soap (oak also brown oil). It is also available in tempera colour or water-based varnish. There is further opportunity to personalise the Wooden armchair through the choice of upholstery. Among the options are a wide range of upholstery fabrics in sustainable natural materials and skins that only get more beautiful with age - vegetable tanned cowhide from Tärnsjö, vegetable tanned and undyed sheepskin and vegetable tanned reindeer skin or chrome-free tanned cowhide from Danish Sørensen.

    To achieve the soft curves in the Wooden Armchair's back, steam bending is used – a time-consuming craft to shape solid wood. Once the wood has dried completely, the furniture components are processed into a finished form. Even the upholstered seat is a time-consuming craft in curled, linen weave, horsehair, cotton wadding, cotton ticking, and hemp.

    Since Norrgavel has chosen to work with sustainable natural materials, our furniture will age beautifully and naturally. Moreover, the materials we use also enjoy being used. Thinking in terms of sustainability is a non-negotiable principle and the very foundation of our approach to furniture making.

    Wooden armchair and Footstool in white-oiled oak with upholstery in Belgian unbleached linen.

    "Tempera is the most naturally pure color we could find."

    Many customers choose to have their Armchair painted in one of our beautiful tempera colors. And egg tempera, in particular, is a color strongly associated with Norrgaveland it's no coincidence that it has become so. Norrgavel's founder, Nirvan Richter, explains:

    – Tempera is the most naturally pure color we could find. It's beautiful and so pleasant to live with; it settles like a thin matte veil over the wood surface and transforms with the changing light of the day - aging gracefully.

    In Sweden, egg tempera has been used since medieval times. Originally, egg tempera paint was used for decorative painting and sculptures, but eventually, it became increasingly common on walls and furniture as well. Nowadays, many people choose egg tempera for environmental and health reasons, thanks to its pure and natural content – free from additives or solvents. Others choose egg tempera simply because it produces an incomparably beautiful result. Additionally, egg tempera is a very durable and long-lasting paint.

    "I wish I had designed the Wooden armchair, even though I actually did back in 1993."

    In the Swedish ELLE (issue 6, 2000), Nirvan is asked what he wishes he had designed. "The Armchair," is the answer. Nirvan Richter further explains:

    – It's about how sometimes we don't even dare to believe that we can do what we actually have done. It has to do with low self-confidence, or rather, fear. Not being able to trust one's own knowledge, one's own abilities. That's how I see the whole design process; that the focus is on being completely present in oneself rather than just drawing a chair. But I don't perceive the fear as negative because the more I get to know it, the better I communicate with it. Of course, I know that I'm the one who designed the Armchair, the piece of furniture I'm most proud of, but sometimes I don't dare to believe it's true!

    And many, like Nirvan, are grateful that this is indeed true. A very concrete confirmation of this is that the Armchair is still one of Norrgavel's best-selling furniture pieces. The Armchair is a modern furniture classic that has succeeded in weaving together majestic design artistry with everyday Scandinavian home life.

    Tempera-painted Wooden armchair in the shade Beige with a loose cushion.

    "It's certainly unique that the Dalai Lama has signed a Wooden armchair [...] he spoke about the chair before he came to Sweden."

    In the autumn of 2018, Norrgavel's Wooden armchair was given a bit of extra spotlight, in connection with the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Individual Humanitarian Aid (IM), the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, visited Sweden and Malmö on September 13. He lectured to 400 students at Malmö University as part of IM's anniversary celebration, and throughout the entire lecture, he sat in an Armchair from Norrgavel. After the lecture, the Dalai Lama signed the armchair (at the top of the backrest, just above the headrest), and then the armchair was put up for auction on the trading site Tradera. The money raised from the chair was donated in full to the humanitarian aid work of Individual Humanitarian Aid.

    – It's certainly unique that the Dalai Lama has signed it, which adds significant value. He received no instructions but chose where to sign with a blue pen himself. He talked about the chair before coming to Sweden and remembered that he had sat in a similar chair during his last visit.

    Sofie Richter, Marketing Manager at Norrgavel AB

    The Wooden armchair with a loose seat cushion is for those who crave even softer seating comfort – a true "county armchair".

    Since 2009, there's also a softer alternative with a loose, feather-filled cushion on top of a beautiful linen cover. The Armchair is crafted in beech or oak wood, and the cushion, as well as the back and neck pillows, like all Norrgavel furniture, contain pure natural materials throughout. It's a craft where every detail withstands scrutiny and is designed to last for generations.

    The Wooden armchair is approaching its 30th year and has already established itself as a prominent figure in Swedish furniture design. It's a modern Swedish classic and a beloved piece of furniture art.

    Did you know?

    » The Wooden armchair was first showcased as a prototype at the Housing Fair in 1993 and is now included in the collections of the National Museum and the Nordic Museum in Stockholm.
    » In 1997, the Wooden armchair graced the cover of the Yellow Pages telephone directory (Malmö edition).
    » A fixed seat takes about 2 hours to manufacture (compare this with about 20 hours to manufacture an entire car).
    » The loose cushion for an extra soft seating experience was launched in 2009. A true "county armchair".
    » Between the back legs and the seat, the armrests form a frame that makes the Wooden armchair very stable in its construction.
    » Dalai Lama signed a Wooden armchair, which was then sold at auction – the proceeds from the auction went in full to IM's (Individual Humanitarian Aid) relief work.
    » In 2017, Norrgavel collaborated with Bukowskis to produce ten exclusive editions of the Armchair with unique upholstery developed by Norrgavel's creative textile manager, Inger Wibell Kähr.
    » The Wooden armchair can also be purchased as a miniature from Kottetoys.
    » All Norrgavel furniture is still hand-sketched to this day. The company's founder and designer, Nirvan Richter, continues to sketch both furniture designs and sketches for store interiors by hand. He creates these sketches in beautiful notebooks that are kept in a safe on a daily basis. A rich furniture history lies within these 36 fully illustrated sketchbooks, representing nearly 30 years of furniture design...
    » The sketchbooks that Nirvan Richter uses are purchased from a carefully selected paper shop in Gamla Stan in Stockholm (Studio Barbara Bunke). They are handmade sketchbooks with covers clad in Norrgavel's furniture fabric.

    Watch as a Wooden armchair is painted at our facility in Lammhult (0:41 min)