There’s little doubt that Kaare Klint’s “Safari Chair” was directly inspired by Roorkee chairs built during the late Victorian era.
The chairs are so close in dimension that I use the same leather patterns when building an 1898 Roorkee chair or a 1930s Klint chair. As a builder, the only significant differences between the chairs are in the leg turnings and the way the arm straps are attached.
This observation isn’t to denigrate Kaare’s genius as a designer. Only to point out a close connection between campaign furniture and Danish modern.
This weekend I was delighted to receive some images of construction drawings of a Klint chair that were executed in 1933 by Rigmor Andersen, a student of Klint’s and life-long supporter of his work. These ink and pencil drawings are on display at the Danish National Art Library. The photos were taken by woodworker Jared Fortney during a recent visit to the library.
(If you are near Copenhagen, Fortney says you should get there immediately to see the current exhibit on Hans Wegner that features more than 150 Danish chairs.)
The three-view drawing shows a lot of good details. First is that the stretchers are indeed cigar-shaped and 1-1/4” in diameter in the center. Also interesting: The two back pieces are double-tapered. I actually haven’t noticed this on Klint chairs to date. So I’ll try that on my next one.
Because this drawing is scaled, it’s easy to see exactly where the transitions occur in the turnings. And lastly, the seat construction shown in the drawing in one I haven’t encountered before in the wild. The seat material wraps around the front stretcher and is sewn. At the rear, the material wraps around a dowel and is sewn. Then there are four grommets in the seat. Leather belting attaches the grommets to the rear stretcher.
This arrangement saves some material and makes the belting easy to replace. On a fair number of vintage Safari chairs the belting has snapped or rotted.
All of the images in this blog post are as high a resolution as possible from the photos. I also processed and sharpened the images to make the details more readable. So download them and print them out to get the maximum detail.
— Christopher Schwarz