Peter Opsvik

Peter Opsvik is a Norwegian industrial designer born in 1939, trained at the Bergen College of Applied Art and the Norwegian State College of Applied Art in Oslo. Opsvik has worked as a freelance industrial designer since 1970, and currently has his own studio in Oslo, where he works with his team focusing on product design as a mean for solving real-life problems. Opsvik's philosophy and design approach is an integral part of the Varier identity. We continue to maintain a close collaboration with Opsvik and his team, working with one commitment - to reimagine the way we sit.

“Having held any posture for a while, the best posture is always the next one. Even the most “correct” way of sitting recommended by the most prominent experts becomes uncomfortable after a while.”

- Peter Opsvik

Breaking the norms of sitting

Throughout his career, Opsvik has attempted to overcome our stereotypical sitting habits with his unconventional seating solutions. With a playful and human starting point, his work is a display of how norms of sitting nicely and sitting still can be broken.

The next position is always the best

Opsvik has dedicated his adult life to studying how we sit. In the 1970s, many theories were presented among experts in ergonomics regarding the correct sitting posture. Opsvik’s take on this was that they were all correct. The answer does not lie in one perfect position; rather, the key is to change positions frequently. There is no single right sitting position, and after a while, even the most correct sitting position would feel uncomfortable. He took it upon himself to design chairs that allowed for as many different comfortable postures as possible and made it easy to move and change frequently between them.

Timeless appeal

While some of Opsvik’s output might look more like art than ordinary chairs, the underlying curiousity of how we sit and how we interact with surrounding objects is always present. Unaffected by trends or fashion, Opsvik has often given his designs unconventional shapes, this is an element that contribute to their continued relevance and timeless appeal. His pieces continue to excite and evoke emotions even decades after they were introduced.

The balans concept

In the late 1970s Peter Opsvik entered into a collaboration with Hans Christian Mengshoel. Mengshoel was conducting studies on balanced sitting and coined the concept of balans. He invited Opsvik, along with other designers, to develop designs based on this novel concept. The iconic Variable™ was among the furniture pieces that were conceived. With its tilted seat, knee cushions and curved runners, Variable™ broke with all previous notions of how a chair should be designed. Initially, the balans concept and the output was met with scepticism by other Norwegian manufacturers and designers due to the designs untraditional visual expressions. However, the designs quickly gained success among the public and continue to excite even now, decades later.

Explore designs by Peter Opsvik