A Polish Icon: Józef Chierowski’s forgotten Fotel 366

If you know me well, you may well be aware that I like chairs. An awful lot. And if you don’t know me well at all – hello, I’m Emilia, and chairs are very much my thing.

I don’t want this column to become the usual spiel you’d find on design websites, inside beautiful Phaidon publications, or buried in dense old essays dedicated to mid-century furniture. Chairs are really intriguing objects to me, ones which ignite my passion for modern interiors, and I want nothing more than to spark that interest in others. This is only possible if you regard Chair of the Week as a personal exchange – I can’t claim to be an expert in modern design, nor am I any good as a writer per se. I do, however, experience the emotions surrounding fascinating chair designs rather intensely, and if I inspire even a fraction of that in others I’ll consider this column a success.

Józef Chierowski, Fotel 366, 1962

I’ll get straight to the chair with which it all started: Józef Chierowski’s Fotel 366. Designed in 1962, the 366 Easy Chair was born of urgency, not aesthetics, after the Lower Silesian Furniture Factory burned down, which caused a shortfall in furniture production and a need for easy and reproducible designs to be delivered into Polish homes. Due to its simple and minimalistic frame, the chair gained popularity and quickly found itself in every living room, office, and café across Poland, its young apprentice designer Chierowski gaining popularity even among leading designers.

The unique trait of this chair is its particularly small size, the original measuring only 72 cm high and 62 wide – once again not by design, but because of the economic situation Poland found itself in during the 1960s. Homes were small and the average working class family could not afford large sofas or armchairs: they needed their homes to be functional and affordable. Maciej Cypryk claims ‘there’s nothing spare’ in the original design, the chair keeping wood and textiles to a bare minimum and