Earlier this year, Niko Kralj’s 1956 Rex Lounge Chair was acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art as part of its permanent collection. Care to know more about this influential designer? Then pull up a chair.
Despite being one of the most important 20th century industrial designers, Niko is relatively unknown outside his home country Slovenia. He grew up in a house where carpentry was the order of the day and spent most of his early life in his father’s workshop. Niko was tragically the sole surviving member of his family after the Second World War ended. He overcame this immense hardship and went on to study architecture at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Lubljana, graduating in 1952.
His knack for innovation and his relentless passion for knowledge made him stand out among his coworkers at Stol Kamnik furniture factory and before long he was named head of design. His first designs came into production with Stol in 1953, with his initial big success being the Rex 120 Chair.
Many of Niko’s best-known designs were released in 1956, including the Rex Lounge and its variations, the Rex Chair and Rex Rocking Chair. Over the years these chairs have become Kralj's most sought after work. Since its introduction in 1956, the Rex line of products have sold in excess of one million units.
During the ’60s Niko was known as the best furniture designer in Europe and in the course of his professional career he registered 118 patents and models, wrote 39 research papers, appeared at 94 exhibitions and published over 100 articles on design. He died in 2013, leaving behind a legacy many designers can only dream of.
In 2010 Žiga Vrhovec bought the rights to his designs from Kralj’s family and founded the company Rex Kralj. “Rex” means king in Latin and “Kralj” also translates into king in Slovenian. The company aims to continue his legacy. Spazio is a proud distributor of Rex Kralj’s timeless furniture range, from the famous Shell Lounge Chair to the Mosquito Chair, which was so ahead of its time that production only started more than 50 years after Niko first put his ideas on paper.
Images: Courtesy Rex Kralj
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