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Strala - when poetry and design organically unite

Nestled in-between cozy apartment buildings and smaller shops in the Seefeld area of Zürich, one can have a glimpse at the furniture and lamp designs of Tom Strala. Every time I pass trough that street, I cannot help but gaze at those incredibly beautiful objects. At first I wasn’t sure if this is a gallery or a shop, or both? It took me a while to even dare to go inside, cause I was expecting that those objects are light years away from being within my budget.

After I first entered the Strala gallery-store and discovered the “Seefelder” chair, besides many other incredible impressive objects, I wanted to meet the man behind all this sophistication »crossover design meets art meets poetry«. I was interested in who this fellow is, so we met at his tiny apartment in Zürich, with a balcony the size of a soccer field. “I enjoy living here, reduced to the max, I only have the most necessary possessions and I truly enjoy that.” Those are a bed, a sideboard and a desk – all self designed and sort of in a prototype status.”

Strala is a classically trained architect and one of his first professional positions was to supervise a huge construction site for a new train station. That’s where this free mind entered the conflict zone for the first time and Strala realized that he needed to create his own vision, rather than execute others. He also felt that architecture was too limiting and probably too big of a monster to realize ones own vision. “Where I see parallels to architecture is that you can create dimensions with design, you can fulfill yearnings and desires, but within furniture and light design you can realize them with less obstacles.” To Strala it is about reaching crossroads, as he points out: “I want to go to a place, without knowing the destination.”

Most all pieces in his catalogue are very limited editions and they are made by order only. Recently, he started experimenting with rattan, combining steel, which serves as the base of this new chair. Tom Strala created a regular- and a rocking chair and later on also a chaise lounge. All those pieces are equally handmade, but this time with a partner abroad who provides the knowledge of working the rattan to the highest quality standards. When asked about the relatively affordable price, Strala tells me the following: “My pieces have its price tag, I invest an average of 4-6 production weeks for any piece. It wasn’t the base of motivation when I started working with rattan, but I also wanted to create something affordable — maybe, in some sort of way, I made peace with myself and accepted the fact to produce more of one piece and to make it accessible to a larger audience. At times, you gotta shatter automatisms in order to find fresh ground.”


Tom Strala is a regular guest lecturer at various design schools and fairs.
His major inspirations are Achille Castiglioni, Carlos Scarpa and Lina Bo Bardi.



Strala Gallery
Dufourstrasse 169
8008 Zürich

VISIT STRALA