Jindrich Halabala helped create a new mass-market approach to home design and furnishing in Czechoslovakia in the interwar period and after the Second World War. He believed furniture could and should be well-finished, fully functional, modular, mobile and widely affordable.
As chief designer of the large Brno-based furniture producer United Arts and Crafts Manufacture (UP), he significantly influenced its manufacturing programme from the 1930s on – pioneering the industrial manufacture of furniture in Czechoslovakia. He developed two fundamental series of modular furniture: lines H and E, and many types of wooden seating. He also designed innovative tubular steel furniture, produced in UP’s Hodonín branch.
As well as developing a modern approach to promotion of furniture, using life-like interiors that he photographed himself for UP publicity materials, he was also active as a theoretician. He regularly contributed to specialist journals and the general press, lectured at vocational secondary schools and colleges and later, as chairman of the furniture manufacturers’ association, played a major part in the reshaping of the Czech furniture industry.
Furniture with the UP mark or individual pieces of furniture attributable to Jindrich Halabala are much sought after today. Apart from cupboards, tables and small armchairs, the greatest demand is for Halabala’s reclinable bent wood armchair (three variants with different systems for reclining), writing desks and dining-room chairs with a high, spreading back. Halabala’s unique tubular chairs with a two-way cantilever are top collectors’ pieces but hardly ever reach the market.
Halabala’s designs can be seen in the permanent collections of Moravská galerie, Brno and the Olomouc Museum of Art, and have recently been on show in an exhibition commemorating Halabala that has toured major cities of the Czech Republic.