The S3 armchair by Alfred Hendrickx for Sabena

Alfred Hendrickx, one of our greatest post-World War II designers, designed this armchair for Sabena. Its elegant lines are characteristic of his work, as well as of design in the post-war period. It is an armchair that is also linked to our history and the Expo 58 world fair. Thanks to the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund, it will logically become part of the Design Museum Brussels permanent collection.

Expo 58

Designed by Alfred Hendrickx (1931), one of the greatest post-war designers, the S3 armchair takes us back to 1958. Hendrickx was commissioned by Sabena (the Belgian airline) to design the emblematic transit area in Zaventem airport (Brussels), which was due to welcome numerous visitors to the world fair of 1958. Thanks to its acquisition by the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund, the armchair will be exhibited at the Design Museum Brussels, close to the Atomium, which was also built for Expo 58.


During the post-war period, Belgium underwent significant developments in the field of design as well as numerous innovations. As part of the quest for a ‘better life’, a somewhat playful modernism emerged, which rapidly spread to interior design and for which Expo 58 became the shop window. This international event was the ideal occasion for Hendrickx to showcase his furniture, including this S3 armchair, in the Province of Antwerp pavilion.

Elegant design

The beauty of this elegant armchair lies in the pure lines of the wood which, even today, give it a contemporary character. The three wooden legs and its simple and fluid lines give the armchair a very relaxed aspect. In line with Italian design of the 1950s, Hendrickx succeeded in giving his furniture an aspect of lightness and highlighting the natural simplicity of wood in his creations. His last designs developed from a light and playful style towards a more formal, understated and pared down language.

The emblematic Skyhall

Some 150 S3 armchairs awaited travellers in the Skyhall of Zaventem airport. As part of the 1958 world fair, Sabena commissioned architects Maxime Brunfaut, Geo Bontinck and Joseph Moutschen to design a completely new infrastructure for the airport. The emblematic Skyhall was to welcome numerous visitors to Expo 58. The S3 armchair was specially designed for the Skyhall and produced in tweed in three different colours, in blue, mustard and red. Fifty of each colour. Today there are only some fifty examples remaining and these have become rare, much sought-after design objects

Hendrickx and Belform

At the age of 20, Alfred Hendrickx began work as an interior designer in the Van Fleteren family business. The company, specialised in producing furniture in wood, was founded by Alfred Hendrickx’s grandfather, Eugène Van Fleteren. After the Second World War, the company, re-named Belform and specialised in refurbishing boat interiors, also began to design interiors and furniture for houses. Today, Hendricks’s designs stand out thanks to the dynamic movement of their lines in wood.

Material / technique: 
Wood, tweed
H 72 cm x L 69 cm x P 76 cm
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Marie-Jeanne Dauchy Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Design Museum Brussels