Chair SL58 by Léon Stynen

The King Baudouin Foundation’s Heritage Fund had the possibility of acquiring the emblematic chair SL58, designed by architect Léon Stynen(link is external) (1899-1990). This famous chair, made in collaboration with Stynen’s assistant Paul de Meyer, was put on the market by the Antwerp company Straatman, Loral et Cie, for the Expo 58 world fair. It is a timeless classic of Belgian design: an elegant chair with tubular steel legs and a seat in curved multiplex. A magnificent design reduced to pure simplicity and continuity.

Architect and town planner Léon Stynen was a key figure of modernism and functionalism in Belgium. Inspired by Le Corbusier, he immersed himself in an architecture of straight lines and rectangular planes. His was an architecture characterized by functionality and spatial disposition. He met with success while he was very young and continued to conduct numerous projects for over 50 years, from the early 1920s up to the end of his professional career in 1977. He built casinos, homes for the elderly, cinemas, schools, office buildings and villas. The casino in Knokke was one of his first creations, whilst the Royal Music Conservatory in Antwerp, which later became the deSingel International Art Centre in Antwerp, was one of his last projects.

As a furniture designer and creator too, Léon Stynen created numerous pieces of furniture, often intended for specific interiors, but few examples of these remain today. Original SL58 chairs have become extremely rare. These ‘unique pieces’ rarely survived due to the rather fragile nature of multiplex. However, the Bulo company re-issued the SL58 chair to mark "the Year of Léon Stynen" in 2018.

The acquisition of an original SL58 chair in good condition was therefore an enormous opportunity. A chair with a universal formal language, it is a great example of pure modernism and one that perfectly sums up Léon Synen’s functional design.

The chair has been entrusted to the Design Museum Brussels, a special place for this SL58, which finds itself back in its original and historic environment. It was placed in dialogue with other furniture created by Belgian designers acquired by the Heritage Fund in 2019, as well as with other furniture from the 1950s that are part of the museum’s permanent collection, including furniture designed by Jacques Dupuis, Jules Wabbes, Willy van der Meeren and others.

Furniture, chair
Material / technique: 
Multiplex, legs in steel tubes
54 cm l x 56 cm p x 81 cm h
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Heritage Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Design Museum Brussels