Mathsson (1907-1988) was the son of a fourth generation Swedish cabinet maker. He loved architecture and interior design (inredning). While raised working with beautiful woods of the cabinetry business, he was pulled in a different direction by the functionalist movement of the early twentieth century.
Using functionalism in interior design (inredning) means making sure everything in the home has a specific purpose. Some of Mathsson’s early works were considered ugly to those not familiar with the functionalist movement. In fact, when a hospital bought his chairs in 1931 for their waiting area, visitors found them to be so ugly that they were eventually stored in an attic and not used again. However, his breakthrough came at a show in New York in 1939.
Mathsson was a functionalist. He believed that all parts of the design should have a purpose or function. Also, he considered himself to be a perfectionist, believing that all of the furniture needed to please the eye. If both of these were not met, the furniture was incomplete. The superellips table is one of Mathsson’s most popular designs.
The superellips is an ellipse that was designed using a mathematical formula made popular by Piet Hein who was a Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor and author. Hein and Mathsson worked in cooperation in the 1970’s to make this table popular.
For use in a business setting involving office meetings, many people like the superellips. Since Bruno Mathsson first invented it, that table design has undergone a number of changes. Although the shape of the top has stayed the same, the legs have often been widened to better accommodate today’s larger, rolling office chairs. Although often updated with modern materials and enhancements, Mathsson should be pleased to see that his table’s design and functionalism qualities have been maintained in the business setting of today.
Bruno Mathsson’s designs are still in production throughout the world, even though he died over two decades ago. In Japan, licensed production and sales resulted from contacts Bruno established while traveling there and displaying his designs. A piece that really showcases the beauty and simplicity of his designs is the superellips.