Thomas Bentzen’s Cover chair family was designed for togetherness

The Cover chair family, designed by Thomas Bentzen for Muuto, took a long time and a lot of work to develop. In an interview with Design Stories, Bentzen reminisces on the design process that lasted more than three years – and praises the patience of the manufacturer.

Muuto Cover lounge chair
Thomas Bentzen's Cover chair was launched in 2013. Manufactured by Muuto, the collection has later expanded to become a whole chair family.

Hi, Thomas! How have you been?
“I’ve been doing well in the middle of these weird Covid-19 times. I found myself in a strange mix of being super stressed about homeschooling kids, home kindergarten while working, and then some days walking through an empty city to my studio, where I could focus in a way that I have not been able to in a long time. All in all, I have been very well and feel lucky and privileged to be able to continue doing work these days.”

One of your many designs for Muuto is the Cover chair, which has now become a whole family of chairs. What was the original idea behind the design?
“The brief was creating a new perspective on the classic Scandinavian dining armchair typology. I had recently designed the Around coffee table for Muuto at that time, working a lot with plywood. For me, it is an interesting and industrial way of working with wood. So, for the Cover chair, I had this idea of merging solid wood and plywood, industrial and crafted together into a lighter and crisper armchair.” 

Muuto Cover side chair
The design process for the original Cover chair took over three years.
Muuto Cover lounge chair
The collection has later expanded with a lounge chair and a side chair.
Thomas Bentzen Cover Chair
“It was a super interesting and difficult process to develop the backrest and make the chair strong enough without the stretches to support the front legs,” Bentzen says.

It took several years of product development to get the design right. What kind of challenges did you have to face during the process?
“It was important to me that the design was light and strong at the same time, which is always difficult to achieve since it is often a contradiction. To achieve that, solid wood is used to carry the seat and backrest, while the seat and armrest come in very thin, molded plywood so it appears light but is firmly rooted to the ground.

I also worked on eliminating the stretches that we normally see on this typology to bring it into our time, and by adding the ‘cover’ to the armrest, we made a strong connection between the front and back leg and eliminated the need for stretches between the legs.

“The Cover Chair was not designed for any specific location – more for a context of social gathering. Dining with friends and family.”

We spent a lot of time on getting the comfort right, finding the perfect angle for the back, the height of the backrest, etc. Especially the armrest was tricky to develop with the very small radiuses on the bends. All these tiny details like how far out the leg should go over the armrest, the radius on the plywood corner, etc. All in all, I think we spent close to 3,5 years from the design brief to the launch of the chair. I like thoroughness in design, and I like working with details. That's why it's important for me to work with a patient company like Muuto.”

Did you have a particular space or location in mind when designing the chairs?
“The Cover Chair was not designed for any specific location – more for a context of social gathering. Dining with friends and family.”

Muuto Cover side chair
The latest addition to the Cover chair family is the Cover side chair, launched in 2020.
Muuto Cover side chair
All of the chairs in the collection feature a solid wood frame and a seat and backrest in molded plywood.
Muuto Cover lounge chair
The Cover chair's ingenious construction makes the chair sturdy without the need for stretches in the legs.
Muuto Cover lounge chair
The Cover lounge chair is also available with a beautiful leather-upholstered seat.

The Cover Chair family now includes an armchair, a side chair, and a lounge chair that all come in a variety of materials and finishes. Do you have a favorite among them?
“Choosing my favorite variant among the Cover chair family is like choosing your favorite child among your children – simply impossible. I like all of them. Perhaps, at the moment, with the Cover side chair launched in 2020, I tend a bit towards that one. I love the wooden versions, where you clearly see the wood veneer and the direction of the wood grains as it kind of explains the chair’s design and construction.”

Designer Thomas Bentzen
Thomas Bentzen's designs are often characterized by a playful and graphic touch, with an aim to test the boundaries of different materials.

4 x Thomas Bentzen’s favorites

1. City: Tokyo and all cities where you can also ski.
2. Restaurant: Italian
3. TV show: Mr. Robot
4. Musical artist: Danger Mouse and all the stuff he is involved in.

See also:

All products by Thomas Bentzen >
All products by Muuto >

Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Muuto

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