René Šulc’s Chaise Lounge

We’re approaching 19 years now since the fall of the Berlin wall, so it’s about time we welcome the design ingenuity of all denizens of the former Eastern Bloc, especially the Czech Republic. Have a look at the work of Ren© Sulc, for instance.

Chaise Lounge. Designed by Ren© Å ulc.

Born in 1978-so barely ten when his world opened to the West-Sulc first drew international acclaim in 1996 when he won the Good Design award for a toy train. In the same year, he also won the ETA – Visions prize for design for the 3rd milennium in the kitchen appliance category, then went on to take the Excellent Design award in the same year for a paint spraying gun. Only with the dawn of a new century did he move on to Office Furniture and Residential Interior Design.

One could make the case that the work of Sulc is indicative of broader movements in Czech Design. With antecedents in a storied tradition of timber harvesting-straight from the old growth bowers of the Carpathian Mountains-and the manufacture of bentwood furniture, visionaries like Miroslav Maňas had the foresight to take tradition and run with it, with the end aim of creating contemporary furniture that belonged among the best of the West, yet still evoked something of the Czechoslovakian past. To that end, in 1992 he founded MM Interier, which “offers both a wide variety of traditional models enabling a series of combinations and variants, and also models, which could be called ‘experimental,’ completely upholstered seating furniture of sober minimalist shapes, but also armchairs and sofa beds of rounded shapes with accentuated metal framework.”

René Šulc’s Chaise Lounge

Teaming up with Sulc has resulted in the one of a kind “Sulc Chaise Lounge” (2000), a piece that looks to the future to be sure. With a “carcass” of bent wood (clearly, the P.R. folk were anticipating the dead sleep of all who sample its contours), upholstery of polyurethane foam, and legs of stream-lined stainless steel, Sulc’s Chaise (or “Designer Day Bed”) looks light enough to defy gravity. Two design features of the piece stand out: 1. The up-tilt of the end portion-attractive to all who endure sleep-induced back pain, since raising the lower half of the body takes stress off the spine; and 2. the negative space to sleeper’s/lounger’s left-a feature that makes the slumber induced by Sulc restful, yes, but somewhat unsettling all the same, as if we needed to be reminded that, supportive, luxurious, and ergonomic chaise notwithstanding, there are always fissures in the fabric (so to speak). Sulc’s space-age design intuits a new kind of sleep, one in which we’re better informed about the stuff that provokes our dreams.

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