How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life

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By Aileen Kwun / Published by Dwell
Peter Opsvik, a longtime specialist of ergonomics, reflects on his 1972 Tripp Trapp chair.

An artful reminiscence of Rietveld’s 1934 Zig-Zag chair—with a spare, wooden geometric frame in the shape of a letter Z, and bearing a name equally alliterative—the Tripp Trapp, designed by Peter Opsvik, distinguishes itself from other high chairs in that it allows children to sit closer and more intimately to the family dining table. "I tried to find a chair that allowed our [then-] two-year-son to sit comfortably together with us at the table," the Norwegian industrial designer recalls. "So I had to figure out the solution myself." 

How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 1 of 6 - A 2013 portrait of Norwegian furniture designer Peter Opsvik in his workshop, a venue he finds "more suitable for experiments than the computer."

A 2013 portrait of Norwegian furniture designer Peter Opsvik in his workshop, a venue he finds "more suitable for experiments than the computer."

Selling more than 9 million chairs to date, the Tripp Trapp has remained in continued production since its launch in 1972. With movable seat and footrest panels that can be adjusted to a user’s growing height, the timeless design is built to be long-enduring for its individual user, as well: It can be used comfortably from infancy to adulthood, scaling up from a high chair to a task chair that accommodates users of up to 300 pounds. For Opsvik, who has focused on ergonomic design for more than 45 years through his independent, Oslo-based practice, the Tripp Trapp remains his most famous work. "It is satisfying to see that products that solve everyday challenges are appreciated," he says. "The distinct visual form gives Tripp Trapp longevity. It does not look old-fashioned and thus, there is no reason to replace it." 

How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 2 of 6 - Available in a range of colors, the Tripp Trapp comes with add-on accessories including the Baby Set, which securely seats children from 6 months to 3 years old.

Available in a range of colors, the Tripp Trapp comes with add-on accessories including the Baby Set, which securely seats children from 6 months to 3 years old.

 
How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 3 of 6 - An early sketch of the chair shows Opsvik’s concept of an ergonomic design for users of varying heights and sizes. Here, the sitter’s elbow is shown aligned at table height, regardless of body size.

An early sketch of the chair shows Opsvik’s concept of an ergonomic design for users of varying heights and sizes. Here, the sitter’s elbow is shown aligned at table height, regardless of body size.

How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 4 of 6 - Kaare Stokke, owner and CEO of Stokke, which has manufactured the Tripp Trapp since 1972, fronted one of the first marketing campaigns for the chair in 1974. Seated with his wife and children in Opsvik’s design, Stokke publicized it as an ergonomic chair for the whole family.

Kaare Stokke, owner and CEO of Stokke, which has manufactured the Tripp Trapp since 1972, fronted one of the first marketing campaigns for the chair in 1974. Seated with his wife and children in Opsvik’s design, Stokke publicized it as an ergonomic chair for the whole family.

How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 5 of 6 - Opsvik first developed the idea for the Tripp Trapp after observing that his son, Tor—shown in a 1972 Stokke booklet struggled to sit correctly and comfortably in an adult chair. "Double-size furniture is a way of understanding how three-year-olds perceive their surroundings," says Peter Opsvik in Rethinking Sitting.

Opsvik first developed the idea for the Tripp Trapp after observing that his son, Tor—shown in a 1972 Stokke booklet struggled to sit correctly and comfortably in an adult chair. "Double-size furniture is a way of understanding how three-year-olds perceive their surroundings," says Peter Opsvik in Rethinking Sitting.

How the Iconic Tripp Trapp High Chair Came to Life - Photo 6 of 6 - Featured on a 1970s cover of Nye Bonytt (a Norwegian interior magazine now called Bonytt), the Tripp Trapp revolutionized seating for the entire family. Adults and children alike are shown seated in the chair, accompanied by the heading: "This year’s furniture."

Featured on a 1970s cover of Nye Bonytt (a Norwegian interior magazine now called Bonytt), the Tripp Trapp revolutionized seating for the entire family. Adults and children alike are shown seated in the chair, accompanied by the heading: "This year’s furniture."