"The Kilta chair was first introduced at the “Great Finnish Fair” (Suomen Suurmessut) held in 1955, where it also received an award. Martela began production of the plywood-framed Kilta chairs the following year. Further development resulted in the frame material being changed to expanded polystyrene in 1959. Today the frame is made of polyurethane.
Manufacture of the polystyrene-framed Kilta was based on a patent which enabled the frame to be moulded as one piece. The method was new, was extremely well suited for serial production and made automation of the production process possible. The groundbreaking manufacturing method revolutionised the chair industry. The Kilta chair itself was patented in 1968 and its upholstering method in 1974.
The chair was designed by Olli Mannermaa (1921-1998) on the basis of a plywood design he had first made in 1949 while still a student. Olli Mannermaa graduated as an interior designer in 1949 and was employed by Martela’s predecessor, Tehokaluste. He quickly rose to the front ranks of Finnish furniture designers, gaining an international reputation at the same time. In the 1950s, Olli Mannermaa became the first in Finland to exploit the potential of plastic in chair design. He also worked as a teacher of furniture design and made a major contribution to the development of Martela into a market leader in its field.
The chair ranks as one of the best-known of all time and has been included in the collection of MoMA, the esteemed Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Mini Kilta chair differs from Kilta due to its smaller size and lack of armrests.
The Kilta chair series also includes Kilta and Mini Kilta chairs with disc and four-leg bases.