Recognizing Arnold Madsen

The True Designer of the Clam Chair

The present "Clam" design has been attributed to Viggo Boesen and Philip Arctander but in actuality it was designed by Arnold Madsen in 1941. Madsen had arrived at the form via a plaster model and took it to several cabinet makers in Copenhagen before finding Henry Schubell, the shop supervisor of Winther & Winding, who would make the form a reality. The chair, as devised by the plaster model, featured a tapered and elongated bend from the seat to the backrest requiring a non-traditional angle in the connection to the frame. Schubell found a solution in hand-crafting an extra piece of wood centered on the bend with a twist and curve delineating the chair's "hinge". This novel construction element set the chair apart from anything that had come before it. 

Photograph of the Clam chair from the records of Arnold Madsen's daughter. The chair pictured is the same chair featured in the Vik & Blindheim advertisement from 1953; A Vik and Blindheim advertisement featuring the Clam chair. Arnold Madsen licensed his design to the Norwegian company for local production in 1952.

The first examples of this form were produced by Winther & Winding and Schubell handcut the frames and components himself. Shortly thereafter, Madsen and Schubell formed a partnership—Madsen & Schubell—where Madsen designed and completed upholstery and Schubell oversaw the shop. The Clam chair was the companies first design and it was widely popular. In 1952, several Madsen & Schubell designs, including the design of this chair, were licensed to Vik & Blindheim in Norway for local production. Several other companies such as Skive, Denmark, Sune Johanssons, Sweden and IKEA also capitalized on the popularity of the form producing their own "Clam" chair designs. 

The present lot, produced by Sune Johanssons, is a period reproduction of Arnold Madsen's timeless and now classic design.

The fascinating story behind Arnold Madsen's Clam was discovered by Zephyr Renner of MovableModern and Oliver Fischer. They connected with Arnold Madsen's daughter who verifies the design was by her father. She retains an original photographic print of the Clam design and it is the same exact chair that was included in a Vik & Blindheim advertisement dating to 1953. The advertisement listed a sales representative, Mr. Sigurd Hassing. They also found Hassing's son, Ole who took over his father's business in 1963. Ole Hassing has provided further confirmation that Arnold Madsen licensed the Clam design to Vik & Blindheim for the Norwegian market.