Gunnar Asplund (1885-1940)

Swedish architect and designer, born and active Stockholm.

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Originally trained as a painter, Asplund studied architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology, and had established his own practice by 1909. He won many commissions through competitions, and his projects included small houses, schools, a public library, and various civic buildings. His early work expressed the neoclassical sensibility then popular in Sweden.

Asplund began to design furniture around 1911, and would continue to do so for the rest of his career; like his architecture, much of it drew inspiration from classical sources. For instance, a chaise longue from the mid 1920s evokes the dining couches of ancient Greece and Rome. Around the same time, he also gained notoriety for a classically-inspired interior which he exhibited at the Liljevalchs Art Gallery in Stockholm. In 1925, Asplund designed the Senna armchair for the Swedish pavilion at the Paris Exhibition. It was widely published, and proved so enduring that Cassina revived it in the 1980s.

Asplund was a prominent member of the Svenska Sl√∂jdforeningen, a group of designers dedicated to improving the quality of everyday objects. With Asplund as chief organizer, the group mounted a 1930 exhibition widely credited with introducing Modernism to Scandinavia. There, a restaurant by Asplund called Paradiset attracted particular attention. His later work embraced the principles and aesthetic of the International Style, but, through its grace and harmonious proportions, remained firmly rooted in classicism. The steel and leather GA-1 and GA-2 chairs (1930) demonstrate Asplund´s skillful handling of industrial materials. By the time of his death, he was considered Sweden´s greatest architect.

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