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Helikon Arm chairs

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Chairs1805 of 2191Massey Harris Directors ChairRound Bottom Carved Chair
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Posted 5 years ago

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SissyDec11
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I wish I had a lot to say about these Helikon chairs, but I don't really know much. I know I love them! I only know they're "Helikon" because of the tag on the underside & they were listed as "Helikon Arm Chairs" when I "bought" them. (I actually traded for them.)
I don't know anything about Helikon as a company or about the age of these chairs. I wish I knew more!

These chairs have a cool shape & are very well constructed. They're SUPER comfortable.

Does anyone know anything about Helikon or about these chairs?

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Comments

  1. husfurniture, 3 years ago
    Hi, Helikon was in operation in eastern Connecticut for many years and closed down about 10 years ago. They produced some of the finest office furniture made. It was shipped throughout the world with much going to Kuwait and Saudi.
  2. peterb1z, 3 months ago
    Hi, I know this is somewhat dated, but yes I know something about these chairs and Helikon.
    My dad designed these chairs and was THE designer at Helikon. Helikon was a top of the line case goods manufacturer similar to Steelcase which is still around. They had a factory in Norwich, Ct. and are no longer in business.
    My dad was an amazing artist, sculptor, and designer who had had multiple Fulbrite scholarships to Europe, a one man show in NYC before he was out of high school, and had a couple of sculptures installed for American Airlines at Kennedy Int'l Airport when it was called Idlewild back in the 50's/60's.
    But alas he couldn't make a living doing art and sculpture and took a job, and became part owner of Helikon designing furniture. They furnished executive offices for Fortune 500 companies like Pepsi.
    If I were to characterize his style I'd say it was elegant yet simple with clean lines. "fussy" was not his style.
    He was not a promoter and the design of office furniture was never appreciated except by people within the industry. And so but for a lucky few who happened to end up and appreciate his pieces, he went quietly into the night.
    A sweet man with impeccable design sensibilities who in this day and age probably would have had a "brand" even in spite of himself.
    Thanks for bringing back the memories and enjoy your furniture if you still have it.
  3. peterb1z, 3 months ago
    Ohh, and as you can see the promotion (or lack thereof) runs in the family...my dad's name was Robert Benham Becker. He always used his middle name though I never knew why. He went by Bob.
  4. husfurniture, 3 months ago
    Hello Peter. I worked at Helikon from 1979-1991 and again from 1999-2005. I remember Bob Becker well. His most successful design was called the Tafville Series and sold quite well for over 25 years. I enjoy working at Helikon for many years. I seem to recall your father's passing but not 100% sure? I seem to recall that he cared for his wife during her illness. A fine gentleman for sure.
  5. peterb1z, 3 months ago
    Hi, and you have a good memory. Yes he did pass away in 2001. And he had been taking care of my mom who had Alzheimer's. She passed away the following year.
    I don't think you could find a person that had anything ill to say about him, he was a fine man for sure. Thank you.
    It's funny I wasn't expecting to hear anything back nevermind someone who worked at Helikon and knew my dad.
    We have a couple of his chairs that he referred to as his paperclip chairs that still had the original leather on that we were looking at reupholstering. I was looking at them closely and telling my wife that the tubing on them was stainless steel, not chrome plated, which is why they never rusted. Surely nothing that a company would use today for a chair like this.
    Anyway, it got us curious as to whether any of his stuff was showing up anywhere on the internet and what it was going for. That I got your response is really something and I'll be mentioning to my brothers as I'm sure they'll be amazed.
    BTW - I still have the Helikon catalogs up in the attic. Though it seems silly. I just can't seem to part with them.
    Peter
  6. husfurniture, 3 months ago
    Hello again. Coincidently I still live in CT and actually travel by the old Helikon Factory building a few times a week. It is being converted into apartments. I often see Helikon Furniture products show up on EBay with mostly being sold in Texas as Enron was a major account at the time and I think were addicted to Helikon Furniture. Again it was a life altering experience for me personally to have worked there. Yes the always used the best available materials such as stainless steel and brass that was polished rather than simply plated. All fond memories.
  7. SissyDec, 3 months ago
    I'm not able to give this a proper reply right now (at an event), but I had to let you know I'm reading these replies and I still have the chairs, I love them, I don't regret for a second trading my $1200 set of 6 beautiful MCM dining chairs (which I thrifted for $30) and a hand built table my husband & I built to Salvage One (a big warehouse/big name in vintage furniture located in Chicago) for a second. I have kept these original except I've done maintenance. Furniture restoration/building is in my family so I have equipment & knowledge. I've had had Lupus & several other health conditions all my life which became significantly active at 18. They progress overtime & I'm 35 now--fairly old for someone with my issues--and my body can't build, upholster, etc like I used to. When I got these chairs however I was still able to professionally clean them. The building they were kept in had covered them in a layer of dust, but that all came right off. There are no stains. I repaired the strapping underneath the chair just like it had been done originally using everything originally there & then adding some new strapping reinforcement.
    One chair had more wear than the other, but with the maintenance I did, they look even unless you get up closez
    The only tricky part in my mind is that the 1 chair that was worse than the other(which is pristine, no strap fixing needed, beautiful) has 2 small areas where the upholstery is a bit worn. One on the arm & one on the back. It's not hugely noticeable (not noticeable at all w/ a throw blanket-hahaha), but I've always struggled with whether to leave these original or to reupholster.
    Through all these years I've gone leave them as is & I believe I'll continue that choice. (Unless you all have opinions....).

    I loved the shape of these chairs. I know they're large & maybe not what everyone would choose for a home setting, but they are works of art. And unlike those $1200 MCM works of art dining chairs, they are comfortable!
    Turning the chairs over & exploring them, I did notice the quality. I was able to kind of retrace the steps of the original builder in order to redo the strapping as it was originally done and then since then, I have always used that method. It takes a little longer & better materials, but it is the best way, produces the best results, & will last. The wood is of great quality! If the upholstery was removed, you could seal that wood & showcase these chairs like that--you NEVER see that on an upholstered piece. Usually cheap, ugly wood is used if it's going to be covered up. The curves are beautiful & must have tsken time & money. The upholstery is incredible and was absolutely deaigned and done by an artist. That is another reason I haven't reupholstered them. I recognize the artistry & skill. I'm definitely not at that level & to be honest, I don't know many or any pro upholsterers that are. The upholstery is as if it were painted on. Incredible.

    I am so grateful for the stories and information you have shared. I'm a huge lover of the stories. Thank you! And anything else you feel up to posting, please share! If you want to email me directly my email is just my username at gmail dot com but posting here is fine too.

    Peter, your father sounds like an amazing man. Are you anywhere near the Chicago area? I don't know--just had a thought that naybe these chairs are more meant to be yours than mine at some point.
    And I know it sounds crazy & it is b/c I coukd sell them sure, but I would gift them to you. I'm not wealthy or anything, but these chairs are in our front room & they don't get used by anyone other than me. I have no shortage of chairs thiugh and maybe these were meant to find their eay back to you.
    Either way, I'm very glad to be in contact with both of you. Thank you so much for writing & sharing. I knew nothing about these chairs & so little about Helikon. Salvage One only told me that they thought these were maybe some kind if prototyoe b/c at some point they were thinking about branching out in mto home furnituren. They said these chairs are "one offs."

    Peter I wonder if the cataalogs have anything similar to these chairs in them?! If you ever get those out, I eould LOVE to see ssome pocs. Cell phone pics sre fine.

    I'm glad to meet both of you. Thank you for your kindness & time & willingness to teach me about the chairs, the man behind them, & Helikon and its employees. What a great day! . :)

    I'll get better pictures & get them posted.
    Decnie (My name is pronounced Dec like December & nie like the body part knee)
  8. mcheconi mcheconi, 3 months ago
    This post became an actual Christmas miracle! Nice!
  9. husfurniture, 3 months ago
    Hello Decnie, I can tell you these chairs were offered in the catalog and available as a chair, loveseat or a sofa. I seem to recall the group being named the Manchester series. Most all of the products were built to order and not shipped from inventory. There were many fabrics and leathers to choose from so rarely were the same items made. These products were normally used in a waiting or lounge area in an upscale office environment but certainly can be used in the home. Great stories.
  10. peterb1z, 3 months ago
    OK, couldn't resist and visited the attic. I sent you a picture from the catalog as I couldn't figure out how to post it here.
    I appreciate your thoughts about gifting them to me, but you should just do with them whatever you want to. The thought was gift enough.
    What a crazy and unexpected surprise this all was. Let's hope it's a sign for the coming year. Something tells me we're going to need it.
    Oh, and I'm in Newtown, CT. Yes, that Newtown/Sandy Hook.
  11. peterb1z, 3 months ago
    Did you get the catalog picture I sent?

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