Our family takes an annual summer trip to Sun Valley, Idaho. The Coles clan has expanded to such a size that we require several separate accommodations. One of this year’s was a condo that, to our delight, was furnished with several mid-century Danish pieces instead of the usual country/western-styled castoffs that are so prevalent in timeshares and rented homes. The compact dining set was especially drool-worthy. Four three-legged chairs with curved backs tucked neatly under a round top. The table expanded via an unusual hidden folding mechanism to seat five or six. I had seen the design before, but had forgotten who came up with the original ingenious concept.
This week, Design Addict has posted an excellent specimen of the set on Ebay and refreshed my memory:
Hans Olsen designed this dining set in 1953 for Frem Røjle Møblefabrik, and it serves as the quintessential model for the holistic integration of form and function. The design is certainly as progressive and relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This set doesn’t expand like the one I used, and there is larger version with four-legged chairs, but I would watch this auction closely. DA’s set looks like it’s in great shape.
Predictably, IKEA has issued their own version of the design (Fusion), but like so many of their knockoffs, it falls far short of the original. It’s too small to really be the practical set that makes Olsen’s design so appealing. And the chairs — with their vertical backs and tiny seats — are so uncomfortable they are nearly torturous. Chalk up another Ikea disappointment. They could really make this idea work and still be original — just as they’ve done with other designs inspired by the classics.
Here’s the first Olsen set I saw and forgot, a sunny version that sold for $510 after 16 bids.
Treadway/Toomey Galleries lists a Hans Olsen expandable set with 3-legged chairs. This is exactly like the one I experienced in Sun Valley. It looks very much like DP’s non-expanding set, but you can just make out the seam where the sides separate for expansion. Treadway’s estimated value at very good condition is $1200-1500.
The chairs stack nicely, as shown by this less than perfect set available from the charmingly named Orange and Brown. Their price is £999.
Update: There is an expanding version of the table with six chairs on Ebay. It’s inexplicably credited to McCobb and isn’t in as fine a condition as Design Addict’s, but the way the other auction is going, this one may just be the cheaper set at $2,495.