Werner Contour Lounge Chair

The Role of Design in the Public Sphere10766_julien_hebert_chaise_de_jardin__contour__garden_chair_1951_mnbaq_donation_de_la_succession_estate_julien_hebert

This simple chaise lounge has an aluminum structure, consisting of two bent tubular forms resting on a triangular base that also functioned as an armrest. The chaise was stable in two positions: balanced on its base or lowered with its foot on the ground. Nylon or canvas covers were available in red, green, royal blue, and gold. This project marked the start of Hébert’s brilliant career. After seeing his aluminum chair in a newspaper article, Sigmund Werner hired Hébert to design a line of aluminum and steel furniture. Initially, Werner manufactured ski poles, but sales were slow due to several poor snow seasons. Therefore, he wished to diversify his production. Hébert collaborated with Werner to create a complete line of garden furniture. Hundreds of thousands of chairs were sold throughout the country in only a few months. In the meantime, Herbert’s winning concept, the “Contour Chair,” had been selected to represent Canada at the Triennale di Milano in 1954. It also appeared that same year in Milan’s prestigious Domus magazine (November 1954) and London’s Decorative Arts Annual (1954–55). It was one of the first Canadian products to receive international praise. The chair also was selected to be part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s design collection. The “Contour Chair” is the perfect synthesis of Hébert’s design philosophy: inexpensive, practical, and well adapted to production and to the cultural context. It also has very pure structural lines, and is quite well proportioned.

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