Varier introduces a new series of its ‘Ekstrem’ chair, an iconic piece considered Norway’s first postmodern design. Best known for producing Peter Opsvik’s kneeling office chair, ‘Variable’, the company has been a destination for ‘out of the ordinary’ furniture that encourages a flexible approach to living spaces. 

Conceived in 1972 by Terje Ekstrøm (1944 – 2013), and produced from 1984, the ‘Ekstrem’ chair was designed as a snake-like form whose soft, geometric composition allows for the body to sit, or lounge, in many ways. 

Terje Ekstrøm’s radical design

Varier Ekstrem chair in orange

Graduating from Oslo’s National College of Art and Design in the late 1960s, Ekstrøm had a background as a cabinet maker and upholsterer, and combined his design approach with a deep passion for craft. He operated in the 1970s and 1980s, at a time of significant cultural and social change in Norway, and his work reflected the radical ideas of a new generation of designers who wanted to contrast the aesthetics of Scandinavian design with a more disruptive approach to furniture and objects. 

The chair’s playful name, meaning ‘extreme’ in Norwegian, references the designer’s name, and his design follows the principles of the radical freedom movement of the time. The chair’s original advertising campaign showcased a dozen different seating options, from traditional posture to front-to-back and sideways approaches. 

Person sitting on dark green Ekstrem chair by Varier

‘Designers sought to dissociate from ideologies and develop a freer language of form that was less committed to convention,’ observes design historian Denise Hagströmer in the book Ekstrøm Extreme, accompanying an exhibition on the designer’s work at Oslo’s National Museum. This, combined with the emerging trend towards ergonomic design, influenced Ekstrøm’s work towards creating the unorthodox forms of the chair. 

Varier ‘Ekstrem’ chair: a new colour series

Varier Ekstrem chair in orange, pink and blue

Varier now launches a new series of the chair, upholstered in Gentle 2, from Kvadrat Febrik. The new ‘Ekstrem’ is available in six new colourways including four desaturated colours (orange, rose, blue and green), as well as black and white monochromatic colourways.

Febrik’s Gentle 2 is a choice that fits well with the chair’s flexible nature: the knitted velvet upholstery textile is the only one of its kind, and is defined by a voluminous presence, elegantly clinging to the chair’s curves, shining on its sinuous forms. It’s a fitting celebration of a design icon whose aesthetic and construction is as modern today as it was when it was first created. §

Varier Ekstrem chair in white and black