Peter Karpf Mod Molded Plywood "Oto" Chair

Oto Chair by Peter Karpf with sheepskin

Last week while packing up the gallery the boss ever-so-graciously offered me this mod molded plywood chair that he didn’t have a space for any longer. I asked my coworkers & drollgirl if they were interested and they assured me they were not. So, being the great scavenger that I am, I was giddy with excitement on the inside trying to play it cool on the outside about my most recent acquisition.

I knew this was a “designer chair” but I had to do a bit of research on it because the tag on the under side has fallen off. I also knew that it was originally purchased at Design Within Reach in 2001, in bright cherry red lacquer. However, since it had been sitting in the same spot in the corner of my boss’ office, right next to a large window for the last ten years, the bright cherry red lacquer has become more of a pale peachy faded cherry allowing the wood grain to show through. It faded gradually and quite nicely rather than splotchy though, and If you didn’t know a thing about this chair, you would think it came this way.

I don’t mind the color, in fact I like it very much. It would work in our living room {where you see it now} however, I’d almost rather use it in my office/studio where I actually need a low chair. Our living space is not lacking in the chair department {though it’s comfy, I find it to be more of a piece of art than a functional sitting chair}.

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So here’s what I found out. . .

The chair is a design by Danish architect-designer, Peter Karpf {1940-}, and is one of three commercially produced designs from his Voxia collection, a line first conceived in the early 1960’s featuring extremely thin layers of plywood, making for an unusually strong and durable form. Though only three designs from the collection were commercially made {in the early 1990’s} and sold, the designs are crafted from a sustainably managed forest near the production plant. The forms themselves require minimal materials to create – a real statement of less being more, and the production process requires substantially less energy. And of course, they are recyclable.

This design is said to be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art ( MOMA ) in New York. Karpf has been rewarded with numerous awards for his Voxia collection.

From what I’ve found, is the only retailer of new Oto chairs listed for around $2200 red – and there is a vintage one at in beech listed for $1500.

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Question to Modern Design and/or Vintage Furniture Professionals: Will I diminish the value of it if I decide I want to refurbish {by re-staining or re-painting} this chair myself? If so, do you know of a place that will do it professionally, thus retaining the value of it? Is it worth more in its faded condition than it would be if I “fixed” it?

Sources: Fabulously{green}, DWR, V and M, Funktion Alley, Scandinavian Design


LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.


  • Mandy

    February 20, 2011 |

    I don’t know anything about the value, but I think the fading looks really cool 🙂

  • LifestyleBohemia

    February 20, 2011 |

    Lucky lady – this chair is gorgeous! I don’t think you should try restoring it yourself since it’s valuable. Either leave it as is (it looks great right now) or take it to a professional 🙂

  • Idee Fixe (

    February 20, 2011 |

    As a former antique & vintage dealer (I still dabble here and there) I can tell you that that you always diminish the value when you mess with the original, even if there is damage. However with that said, if this is a piece you plan on keeping forever rather than putting up on the auction block at some future date, you have to live with it and love it so changing it to suit your tastes is important. Think of it this way, if it went to auction, you’d have no control over what the new owner did to it. You are the new owner, and need to have things in your home that reflect your aesthetic, otherwise they become an eyesore, almost painful to look at! Your new chair is beautiful, enjoy it!
    Suzanne aka Punk Glam Queen

  • Emily

    February 20, 2011 |

    I would say don’t mess with it, keep it original! Its a beautiful piece of art! Plus with your great sense of styling I’m sure you could make it work anywhere! xo

  • coffeeaddict

    February 21, 2011 |

    I agree with Suzanne, don’t refurbish it yourself, that will definetly diminsh its value. Or at least consult an antique dealer beforehand what are the treatments you can safely apply.
    Again Suzanne makes an excellent point: if you plan to keep it for a longer period of time just refurbish it, a good furniture restorer can undo any of the ‘damage’.
    As for your last question, because this piece is so young it qualifies as vintage and not antique it’s probably worth more fully restored than faded.
    Either way it’s a stunning piece of usable art and you are one lucky girl!

  • drollgirl

    February 21, 2011 |

    glad you gave this chair a happy home! i bet it has been sat in about THREE TIMES. seriously! it should last you forever!!!

    and i would love to see it refinished…oooooh, i can just imagine which color i would choose.

    congrats on your SCORE, and it totally went to the right person! 🙂

  • Spec

    February 21, 2011 |

    I LOVE the color! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    February 21, 2011 |

    Don’t touch it!! It’s fantastic the way it was meant to be. Just use and enjoy it. Looks great the way you show it in the photos.

  • AKB

    February 21, 2011 |

    I would say leave the chair as it is for a few months and see if the color begins to grow on you. Then if you still want to refinish it, go for it! You have great taste and I agree with coffeaddict. Because it’s vintage and not antique, refinishing will suit the chair. I can’t wait for the update!

  • jenn~the stylish housewife

    February 21, 2011 |

    i think it is beautiful as is! the wood grain looks pretty…i wouldn’t change a thing!

  • krissy

    February 21, 2011 |

    I’m not a professional by any means but the few episodes of Antiques Roadshow that I’ve seen makes me think that it’s probably already lost some value anyway because it is faded and not in perfect condition anyway. I understand that it is vintage and not an antique but it seems that items do tend to lose some value when they aren’t absolutely perfect. That said, I’m guessing that it would lose even more value if you altered it in some way, such as painting or staining it.

    I agree with what someone else said: are you more concerened about re-selling it? If so, definitely don’t alter it in any way. If you just want a piece of furniture that is more asthetically pleasing to you and you could care less about the monetary value, then go ahead and paint it. You might as well love it if you’re going to live with it.

  • Marisa

    February 21, 2011 |

    That chair is amazing! You have a great boss 🙂

  • Dainty Velvet

    February 21, 2011 |

    That’s such a cute chair, great find!!! You have a wonderful boss.. 🙂

  • Style Porn

    February 21, 2011 |

    As someone who knows absolutely nothing of expensive furniture, I would say you should do with it whatever will make you happiest. I’ve never believed in keeping something just because it’s worth some money. If you aren’t satisfied with the chair in its current state, and believe there are small adjustments that could be made to make it the chair of your dreams, then go for it!

    As an aside though, I love the color and the patina, but it would also look really cool in another bright color.

  • Share my Garden

    February 21, 2011 |

    I’m with everyone else in saying leave well alone, and enjoy! It’s a very sculptural object and suits the mellowing of time.

  • Julia

    February 21, 2011 |

    Nice Blog and the chair is amazing. 🙂

  • Monique

    February 21, 2011 |

    As an Antiques Roadshow junkie I’d say don’t touch it, refinished items are always less valuable. The finish is gorgeous anyway! That chair is beautiful. I’d leave it and watch it go up in value…

  • Elle Sees

    February 21, 2011 |
  • anitabirgitt

    February 21, 2011 |

    Supersnygg blogg…coolt att ni gillar skandinavisk design over their anitabirgitta

  • Anonymous

    February 21, 2011 |

    well, of course it would diminish its value, don’t even think of staining it!!! it looks great the way it is! so, please, give it a rest and enjoy it…

  • Anonymous

    February 21, 2011 |

    oh, and please take that awful sheepskin off it… it hides it completely in the most hideous possible way…

  • La Petite Olga

    February 21, 2011 |

    Love this chair!!!

    xx Olga
    La Petite Olga

  • Michelle

    February 22, 2011 |

    doing it yourself yes would lower the value. however, there are places who will restore antiques back to their original states.

  • Erin

    February 22, 2011 |

    I’m actually a professional art appraiser, and I know that the chair WILL lose value. If you only want it for decorative, then you can stain it. If you want it as a collector piece, leave it be.

  • Gwen

    February 22, 2011 |

    I love the chair!!!! It kind of looks orange on my screen. So great and I would totally leave it the way it is now. 🙂

  • modanista junkie

    February 23, 2011 |

    When I saw this on your twitter I instantly knew this chair was meant for you. It is perfect.


  • Maegan

    February 23, 2011 |

    Thanks for the great advice!!

    ….though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t looking for or even expecting the rude comments, ANON, but thanks for your HUMBLE opinion. I’m sure I’ll “give it a rest” now.

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