The Roorkee family tree spreads across most of Europe.
Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily” chair (1925), Le Corbusier’s “Basculant” chair (1928), Wilhelm Bofinger’s “Farmer Chair” (1966) and Vico Magistretti’s “Armchair 905” (1964) all owe a tremendous debt to the Roorkee chair.
Two of the closest relatives are the Kaare Klint “Safari Chair” and Arne Norell’s version, now sold as the Sirocco chair by the Swedish furniture company, Norell Möbel AB.
There’s a particularly well-broken-in example in this recent Craigslist ad passed to me by Dave Jeske. The Sirocco is an interesting chair because all its components are turned, and Norell eliminated the pivoting back braces – giving the job of holding the back leather piece to the back legs. The cant of the backrest is handed by fastening the back leather to two of the turned side stretchers.
Speaking of stretchers, Norell added three of them to this chair compared to the classic Roorkee. Yet, the chair still retains the same basic profile.
In the coming months, I’ll be exploring more links between 19th-century campaign furniture and 20th-century modern design. There are, in my opinion, some strong ties.
— Christopher Schwarz