Furniture Design Week

Freifrau’s new Nana chair by Berlin-based Hanne Willmann merges the designer’s straightforward design language with the seating specialist’s trademark comfort and elegance.

Like sitting on a cloud: the new Nana upholstered chair from furniture manufacturer Freifrau

Sitting on cloud nine: Freifrau | News

Like sitting on a cloud: the new Nana upholstered chair from furniture manufacturer Freifrau

×

Perhaps it was a dreamy glance up at the sky, at passing clouds, that inspired Hanne Willmann to create this new piece of furniture for Freifrau. Or perhaps the stuffed toys in the room of her young child. It is likely that there is something of both in her new upholstered chair Nana, which was recently debuted by the Berlin-based product designer and furniture manufacturer. She herself says, ‘the Nana should radiate a feeling of comfort and security. When you sit in it, it should feel like home.’

The chair was designed by Berlin-based designer Hanne Willmann, who incorporated the brand's feminine identity as well as her own straightforward design language into the design

Sitting on cloud nine: Freifrau | News

The chair was designed by Berlin-based designer Hanne Willmann, who incorporated the brand's feminine identity as well as her own straightforward design language into the design

×

This not only sounds appealing, it is also immediately evident in the chair’s appearance. ‘The Nana offers comfort. You can see that from 100 yards away,’ the designer states. And for her, that is precisely the embodiment of good design: to be clear ‘without being too loud’. For her personally, it is important that design is honest and features ‘sustainable, authentic materials; clear forms, nothing decorative unless it adds something. I love design when it has surprising details that are not that striking at first glance.’


That is exactly what Nana does – it nestles, and signals that the user should likewise nestle in its soft comfort


At the same time, what counts in a design is not merely to immortalise oneself in it, but to reflect the identity of the brand. Freifrau talks about a rather feminine style, which Willmann expertly embraces in her first product for the German company based in Lemgo. ‘Showcasing the femininity of the Freifrau brand in my design was a wonderful challenge for me,’ Willmann recounts. ‘My design is often very rectilinear and I wanted to be as soft as possible for Freifrau without moving into decorative territory. With Nana, we have managed to create a very soft design that nonetheless features the elements that I represent.

The seat cushion nestles into a frame made of powder-coated tubular steel. The wool bouclé fabric Nimbus by Dedar was chosen for the upholstery

Sitting on cloud nine: Freifrau | News

The seat cushion nestles into a frame made of powder-coated tubular steel. The wool bouclé fabric Nimbus by Dedar was chosen for the upholstery

×

From the manufacturer’s perspective, Nana can be understood as an ‘homage to the art of furniture upholstery’. To attain this quality, the designer and her team experimented with soft, voluminous forms, which they first tried to model using a number of small balloons ‘squashed’ into various shapes. ‘This led to the first approximation of the design: the back cushion,’ explains Willmann. ‘The others then gradually fell into place and the final element was the frame in which the seat shell simply nestles.’

And that is exactly what it does – it nestles, and signals that the user should likewise nestle in its soft comfort. Nevertheless, although the end product appears so floatingly light and calm, the chair required an intensive development period and numerous prototypes. Compared to other design products such as lamps or home accessories, it was necessary to work together much more frequently on the prototyping. ‘The padding and cover simply behave differently to how you plan things. For the Nana, we must have got together five times and were constantly making our own corrections to the product. And then there is the additional ‘comfort’ aspect. It is no accident that the Nana is so comfortable – everything was tested and modified several times until we were all 100 per cent satisfied.’

Hanne Willmann and her team chose an experimental process for the development of Nana, which can be seen in the end result – balloons were used to approximate the shape of the chair

Sitting on cloud nine: Freifrau | News

Hanne Willmann and her team chose an experimental process for the development of Nana, which can be seen in the end result – balloons were used to approximate the shape of the chair

×

As a result, Nana emerged as a masterpiece of balance: voluminous and refined at the same time, simple and perfect, unique and yet reassuringly familiar. The seat is available with or without armrests. The frame is made of powder-coated tubular steel. For the cover fabric, the designer and manufacturer chose the ultra-soft wool bouclé fabric Nimbus from the textile company Dedar, which is located near the Italian city of Como.

And how much brand or personality is there in such a piece of furniture? ‘The idea for a product naturally comes from me, but it has to be right for the manufacturer,’ remarks Willmann. ‘It has to tell their story, convey their values and incorporate their manufacturing techniques. All of my works are thus a symbiosis of my vision and the brand as I see it and as the company sees it.’

Modern upholstery craftsmanship meets historical flair – Freifrau’s Nana does not represent a contradiction, but rather a balanced contrast

Sitting on cloud nine: Freifrau | News

Modern upholstery craftsmanship meets historical flair – Freifrau’s Nana does not represent a contradiction, but rather a balanced contrast

×

Both probably had the same high expectations with regard to the following point: namely, softness and comfort. Willmann seems to have no doubt that she has met these high standards: ‘The Nana is probably the most comfortable chair I have ever sat on. It is as soft as floating on a cloud.’

© Architonic

Related products

Related Profiles