Is Illum Wikkolsø's Ringstol model 23 the most iconic MCM hoop chair ever designed?

Published on 13 August 2021 at 16:03

I am pleased to present to you this stunning Danish hoop chair, designed by the talented furniture architect Illum Wikkelsø in the 1950s for N. Eilersen. Characteristic of the ringstol model 23 is the large round top rail which gives the chair its distinctive sculptural appearance. The floating seat and backrest in woven rattan further contribute to its Mid-century Modern style. In my humble opinion, this chair certainly qualifies for the most beautiful ring chair or hoop chair ever designed.

"Characteristic of the Ringstol model 23, is the large round top rail made of two pieces of steam-bent wood which gives the chair its distinctive appearance."

It is no coincidence that Illum designed this hoop chair for Niels Eilersen from Skamby, Denmark. After all, N. Eilersen had started in 1895 as a coachbuilder and specialized in building horse-drawn carriages. To make his wheels, he was the first person in Denmark to use steam to bend wood. Illum was aware of the fact and this gave him the idea to design a chair with a completely round top rail. The frame of the chair is made entirely of solid beech wood. The ring of the chair consists of 2 long pieces of steam-bent wood that are glued together.

I bought this original Danish Ring Chair in Denmark some time ago. Although the chair looked good at first glance and would initially only need a refurbishment, a closer inspection revealed that a full restoration was necessary. The chair was permeated with an unpleasant odor of smoke, the lacquer had become dull and the rattan seat was completely dried out and broken in some places, making the risk of further damage by use great.

First the chair was given a thorough cleaning, then I removed the dried out rattan and stripped the old paint from the frame. After this, the bare wood was provided with 2 layers of black furniture paint with a satin finish. After the new coat of paint had dried and hardened, I took the chair to the seat weaver who covered the seat and backrest with new rattan. The seat weaver - atelier september - applied the rattan exactly according to the old pattern.