Rope Chair

The Elemental Simplicity of Rope

Rope chair Studio Bouroullec

Few materials are as multifunctional as rope. Due to its tensile strength, its applications are endless: from hunting and fishing to hauling, fastening and lifting, to its utilization in sailing, rock climbing, horse riding, and games such as skipping and tug-of-war.

The manufacturing of rope dates back to at least 15.000 years ago, as evidenced by a fragment of plaited plant fibres discovered in the caves at Lascaux, France. It was rope that enabled ancient civilizations to move megalithic blocks of stone used in the construction of their fabled monuments. It’s no exaggeration to say that rope has played a crucial role in mankind’s cultural and technical development.


Given the material's long-standing history and easy accessibility, it is all the more surprising that a single rope had never been used as a structural and weight-bearing element in furniture – as the Bouroullecs realized some two years ago, when they began exploring a design approach that was as direct as possible, and which would eventually result in the creation of the Rope Chair.

Rope chair Studio Bouroullec

At first sight, the design has an arresting quality. The Bouroullecs are well-known for their use of hand-drawn sketches and the chair’s linear, graceful profile could almost be drawn with a single flourish of the pen. Like rope itself, it appears elemental. Nothing needs to be added. Nothing can be taken away.

The chair employs the adaptability of rope – the quality that’s made it so useful for thousands of years – to support the human body and shape itself to all manner of sitting positions. One version features a natural flax rope that brings to mind seafaring, another a black polyester rope. Furthermore, the chair can be disassembled so that if it were ever necessary, the rope could be replaced via a simple plastic connector.


Designed with longevity in mind, memorable, and ingenious, this third collaboration between the Bouroullecs and Artek is in keeping with the company’s ethos, offering an original expression of Aalto’s ideal of fusing technical expertise with artistic beauty.


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