Traditional spindle back chair stays always relevant

Tapio Anttila

I am often asked questions:
Because the world is full of chairs, so...

1. Why are you making more of them there?
2. Are there any more new ones needed?
3. How can I invent new ones?

The answers to these will become clear if you don't block my blog - that is, read more.


I have sometimes wondered if authors are asked those same questions by replacing the chair with the word "book"? I don't think so. New books are expected from authors, just like new films from film directors and new works from composers. Then why do designers need a purpose for their work? I don't have an answer to this, just a few good guesses. Maybe a chair is perceived as not-so-necessary to replace, because even old chairs can be used. You can't really say that about a book, a movie or a hit song. It may also be that today it is easy to think that the manufacture of new objects in general is harmful to the earth (?).

Well - I'll try to make myself useful now by giving answers to the questions mentioned at the beginning.

Questions 1–2 : The world is indeed full of chairs. And a designer's job is to design them. However, I never design objects for myself, and not just for the pleasure of shaping them. I always wonder what need the object fulfills in the consumer's everyday life - and why not at a party as well. It can also be a solution to a problem, which is best seen in the multifunctional sofa beds I have designed. In a chair, it can be a sitting comfort or lightness, which facilitates portability and works more optimally in small spaces. The purpose of my design is to bring insights, practicality to interiors and to offer pleasure in the visual aspects of the product.

"Thinking narrowly, the world probably doesn't need more chairs, but there is a need for practical, sensible and especially responsible chairs."

I always try to design my objects to be timeless and long-lasting. Everyone understands why. We use a lot of wood, so my chairs act as carbon storages. The longer the chair is used, the longer the carbon is stored and is not released into the biosphere. In addition, we calculate the carbon footprint of all our products and compensate it by planting new trees on wasteland in nearby areas in Finland.

Question 3 : In other words, where do ideas and inspiration come from? This is a slightly more difficult question. As I have written before, inspiration does not come from one source, but is scooped up with two hands from all sources. I mentioned need-based designing above, and that is at least one thing that helps finding an idea. So where does the final finish (which is usually understood as design) come from? I still don't have an answer to that. It can be found somewhere in the deepest corner of the mind.


I will tell you a short example of the birth of my new PIENA chair, which is just one way to approach the boundless land of design. As a type of chair, the traditional spindle back chair is still relevant. Many of them have been made over the decades and they are all very similar because the character of the chair has already become an "archetype". So the world doesn't need any more of the same kind of spindle back chair that are already there, and it wasn't worth it for me to increase the population of similar spindle back chair either. That's why I wanted to bring something new to this genre and break the formula. It was indeed a challenging task, but I succeeded unexpectedly with a surprisingly simple detail. The essence of the idea was that I figured out (from something?) to make the backrest spindle back flexible by connecting them together with a leather strap. This brought much-needed seating comfort to the chair - as well as a unique look.


Even such a small thing can give content to the design and raise the originality of the product. This was further proven when the PIENA chair won a significant international design award at the turn of the year. The award was the Good Design Award, given annually by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

- Tapio

The carbon footprint of the PIENA chair is 9.9 kg CO2e, which we offset by planting trees. Get to know PIENA here.