The JULES chair has appeared in various guises at IKEA over the years. In 1998 it was launched as a height-adjustable swivel desk chair, mainly intended for home use. The characteristic shape soon became so popular, that designer Nicholai Wiig Hansen also created a stackable version with four legs, which was referred to as a ‘visitor’s chair’. JULES has also been made in child and youth versions, and is still sold in the child version at IKEA in 2021.
All models of JULES have a seat of layer-glued wood veneer, with the distinct nine holes in the back. Because of the holes, the chair got the nickname Emmenthal, after the Swiss cheese, before getting its official product name JULES.
Incidentally, the holes in JULES were originally stencilled around wine glasses. Designer Nicholai Wiig Hansen got the idea for JULES during a trip to Italy. He had long wanted to make a new chair for the home office. A chair that was good looking enough to use as an extra chair for guests, yet sturdy enough to be used for hours of working at home. On a visit to an Italian furniture factory, he was suddenly inspired, and along with the factory owner’s father he immediately made a cardboard prototype. Nicholai wanted the chair to have holes in the back to make the seat lighter and create shadows. But he didn’t have anything to shape the holes with. As luck would have it, the factory had a wine cellar. He borrowed a wine glass, and used it as a stencil to draw the nine holes. Nicholai and the factory owner’s father then rewarded themselves with a well-deserved glass of wine.