Words by Karen Barlow

Walking through a muddy field at an antiques market alongside my colleague on a cold morning, I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of chairs, tatty, worn and much used. We just stood there staring, totally captivated by their design. ‘They’re Halabala; I’ll show you’, the seller tried to justify the price tag, in his limited English. Using his iPad, he started to divulge to us the history of the iconic pieces of the much respected Czechoslovakian designer, Jindrich Halabala.

From this point onwards Halabala was responsible for fueling our passion for this modernist, clean lined, iconic design.

Professor Halabala was born May 24 1903, in the Czech Republic. He grew up alongside his father, doing chores, gaining experience and knowledge in his cabinet makers workshop. He then progressed to woodworking school, alongside practical work at United Arts & Crafts Manufacture (UP), where he completed his training. He then signed up for the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, where he graduated in 1926 before working in a local studio. His flare and passion for furniture design was recognised by UP. He was soon offered a directorial position at their factory based in Prague, and was later asked to set up their design studio based in Brno.

Known for his passion for design, he went on to become their development manager. Halabala’s vision was to produce high quality modernist furniture, with an affordable price tag that would outstrip expensive European high end designers in the global market place. His original designs were soon being mass produced for the first time in the Czech Republic despite the bleak times during the time of war.

Halabala produced two types of furniture, tubular steel and bentwood. His most significant design is from his H range, the H269, bent wood armchair. The sweeping arms that stretch forwards, reaching out and then sweeping under, creating the leg in the most eye catching shape that does not fail but to captivate.

Professor Halabala was not only a creator of furniture, but a creator of new ways to live, he is, and will forever be considered as a progressive producer in the last century. Completely redesigning modular furniture production processes for the Czech Republic, often lecturing at schools and colleges about furniture design.

Jindrich Halabala modernised furniture production with such style and flair that his designs appeared throughout homes across Europe. His commitment to the affordable lifestyle and everyday living gave Joe Average an affordable extravagance.

You can not fail to be impressed by the mans commitment to 20th Century furniture design. His legacy is now being restored, his designs revived and revered.

So if you’re a lover of iconic furniture design and you are internet savvy then you can now purchase your own impressive pair of Jindrich chairs, restored to match your home.

Lisa Harrison
Written by Lisa Harrison
Lisa is the Deputy Editor of Vintage Life Magazine and Publisher at Dragoon Publishing. She is avid bookworm, collector of vintage homeware, loves travel, lazy weekends away and eats way too much cake!