Jindrich Halabala (1903-1978)
Jindrich Halabala was born in the Czech town of Koryčany in 1903. He became one of the most significant Czech furniture designers of the 20th century, having significant influence over the design trends of the interwar and postwar periods.
Halabala began his education as a furniture maker in his father’s joinery workshop. Later, he completed his practical studies in the United Woodcrafts Manufacturers company (UP) in Brno. Shortly before turning twenty, Halabala enrolled in the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. There, he learned under Professor Pavel Janák, who was a leader of the Czech Cubist movement. After graduating in 1926, he worked briefly in the architect Bohumil Hübschmann’s studio. Soon after, the UP hired him as their chief designer, which allowed him to have significant influence over the furniture design trends of Czechoslovakia.
Halabala was firm in his belief that furniture could and should be well-finished, fully functional, modular, mobile and widely affordable. Using his influence as the chief designer of the UP, Halabala helped create a new mass-market approach to furniture design. He developed two basic series of modular furniture: lines H and E. He also designed new and innovative tubular steel furniture which was produced in the UP’s Hodonín branch. The UP industrially mass produced various simple components in its woodworking, metallurgy, and textile factories. The UP made much of its furniture by combining these various simple components. This made the furniture affordable and fairly simple in its designs.
The fact that the UP produced its own components also allowed it to pursue high standards of quality, and to operate without the use of contractors. This in turn allowed the UP to accept not only commissions for individual furniture pieces, but also for the design of entire interiors, down to their architectural details. Beyond his role as the developer of the UP’s products, Halabala was also responsible for their marketing. While Halabala worked at the UP, it became the biggest furniture maker in Czechoslovakia.
The furniture that the UP manufactured under Halabala’s management is considered to be some of the highest quality European furniture that was produced during the interwar and postwar periods. Their simple, modern designs have allowed many of the furniture pieces to remain popular and sought after to this day. Permanent collections in the Moravská gallery in Brno and the Olomouc Museum of Art have Halabala furniture pieces on display. They are also perfect for giving any home a modern flair.