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We often ask ourselves, why wouldn’t you support home-grown design when the product rivals or exceeds the very best coming out of Europe? Such is the case with the new Calf Chair by Chippendale-based DesignByThem. Stephen Lacey reports.



July 10th, 2014

Only a severe case of cultural cringe would deny the Calf Chair’s right to be mentioned along with the best of modern Scandinavian design.

Indeed, it was to Scandinavia that DesignByThem turned for inspiration when considering a dining chair to complement the existing premium Calf range of side-table and coat-stand.


DesignByThem co-founder Sarah Gibson says she and her creative partner Nicholas Karlovasitis took the Hans Wegner chairs of the 60s as a starting point. “Those chairs, such as the Wishbone, are still so beautiful to this day,” she says. “We wanted to create something similarly crafted, but with a modern interpretation.”

The Calf is made in Australia from FSR Certified rock maple, an incredibly dense timber that is perfect for machining-in the intricate details demanded of the design. Colour was another consideration. “Rock maple is such a lovely light timber and it’s resistant to yellowing,” Gibson says. “It actually has a slight pinkish tinge that I really like; it’s almost a pastel.”


The back-rest of the Calf chair has been crafted from rock maple plywood, sourced from the same batch of timber as the solid elements. This avoids the contrasting edge typical in most plywood where a cheaper timber has been used in the middle. Such attention to detail is found in every element of the chair and is testament to Gibson’s uncompromising design creed.

And although the Calf chair appears classicly Scandinavian, she is quick to point out that it is this obdurate attention to detail, via technology, that characterises it as a piece of contemporary furniture. “We’ve been really smart about the underside of the chair, eliminating the bracing needed for the legs and paring back that classic form into something even simpler,” Gibson says.

Image: Nicole England

What really comes as a surprise is that such a high-end product is capable of being flat-packed for international shipping. The back-rest and the back legs comprise one part, while the front legs and seat-pad are separate. Concealed screws are used to hold the whole lot together.

But the real question has to be, is it comfortable? “We’ve had no complaints yet,” says Gibson. “I think it’s super-comfortable. I’ve even had people comment on the feel of the underside as well, which – when you pull the chair up to the table – is the main area of the chair that you touch.”

Good news for the growing band of DesignByThem aficionados is that an accompanying Calf dining table will be launched in the next couple of months.

Watch this space.

The Calf chair is made to order and available online from DesignByThem

Photography: Pete Daly

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