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Designing as Addition in Jørn Utzon #Jørn Utzon


The Pritzker-awarded Danish architect Jørn Utzon didn’t design his furniture series related to a particular architectural work. His furniture is linked to his architecture because there are similar ideas behind his modular furniture series and his so-called “additive architecture”, both based on the flexible standardisation claimed by Alvar Aalto and the idea of “organic growth”:

A principle of pure addition implies a new architectural shape, a new expression, with the same features and the same effects that you obtain when you add more trees to the forest (…); it all depends on how many different units you add to the set. Jørn Utzon, Arquitectura aditiva, 1970

Utzon applied these principles in the building system Espansiva, a patent for prefab wooden houses based on four cells, with the basic structure of a shed and a size according to the different functions of the rooms of a house. The same principles of unlimited growth and prefabrication were applied on two series of furniture with very different images: the Utsep system and the New Angle system, both created in 1968.

The New Angle system was based on a series of aluminium frames that could be combined to make tables, armchairs, sofas, sideboards or even screens that divide large rooms into more comfortable ones. The Utsep system is made up of seat, a high backrest and a low backrest that could combine and fit any layout, either straight or curvilinear. The range of possible layouts, in addition to the organic shapes of the units, allow the creation of a kind of sculptural landscape, which can enliven any type of room.