Philip Arctander’s “Clam chair”
The highly sought-after ‘Clam Chair’ was a previously overlooked design sold in mass quantities throughout the 1950’s for as little as $300. The clam-shaped fabric covered seat began to garner international acclaim when it was
misattributed to two other designers before the rightful creator was identified as Philip Arctander in 2014.
Thanks to Philip Arctander’s granddaughter, Anne Sofie, who facilitated contact with her grandfather’s old friend and colleague - Danish architect, Poul Erik Skriver, the ‘Clam chair’ was confirmed to have been designed in 1944 by Arctander and showcased a year later at the newly-opened furniture store NY FORM A/S in Copenhagen.
After graduating from The School of Architecture in Copenhagen (Kunstakademiets arkitektskole), Philip Arctander worked as an independent architect between 1939-1947. It was within this period that he was said to have designed a few pieces of furniture, one of which was the ‘Clam chair’ also known as the Muslingestole or the Mussel chair.
The Journey to Discover the Rightful Creator
Bruun Rasmussen, one of Scandinavia's leading international auction houses witnessed the rise in price of the chair once it was linked to Danish architect Viggo Boesen. Familiar with his designs yet unconvinced by the attribution, they continued to list the ‘Clam chair’ as being of ‘unknown origin’. It remained this way up until the Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design confirmed on their website that it was actually designed by Norwegian, Martin Olsen and manufactured by the furniture company VIK & BLINDHEIM in the 1950s.
Although the name Martin Olsen was unknown, there was an international agreement that what the Norwegian National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design had confirmed must be the truth, thus Bruun Rasmussen began attributing the chair to Martin Olsen.
After Bruun Rasmussen’s international auction held in Copenhagen back in 2013, doubts were raised by a client about the chair’s origin. The auction house delved into an investigation and discovered that the Norwegian designer, Martin Olsen did not actually exist, adding to the series of misattributions. The name belonged to a now-defunct furniture store in Oslo, which was selling the ‘Clam chair’ at the time.
It was only recently then that Arctander, the little known architect, got the credit he finally deserved. The one-of-a-kind ‘Clam Chair’s is now widely regarded as Philip Arctander’s career masterpiece. Based on Bruun Rasmussen’s in-depth investigation and conclusion, the chair is now listed at auctions as follows: “Phillip Arctander: Clam chair, designed 1944. Made in the late 1940s for Nordisk Staal & Møbel Central.”