Content - History: Tradition, progress, Girsberger

No progress without tradition. Since 1889, when Johann Heinrich Girsberger set up a woodworking shop in Zurich, our name has been closely associated with the history of seating. We can look back with pride at a long tradition. And what began with the first patent, the Type 111 swivel chair, became the basis for many subsequent developments. The guiding principles throughout: functionality and practicality, precise manufacture in the tradition of manual craftsmanship, authenticity of materials and durability. These cornerstones remain in place to this day and characterise every one of our products, even if much has changed over the past 125 years. Our origins form a good basis for the future. Our determination always to seek new ways of doing things, question existing practices and leave no stone unturned in the quest to better our products has made Girsberger into a highly respected company in the sector.

 

Although not yet 23 years old, Johann Heinrich Girsberger invests all his savings in setting up the «Drechslerei Heinrich Girsberger», a turner‘s workshop in the Weinberg area of Zurich. There he produces turnery ware such as embroidery frames, wooden bowls and lampstands. The children‘s hospital of the city of Zurich now stands where the «Weinberg» quarter was formerly located.

Heinrich Girsberger signs the lease for a larger workshop and installs his first steam-driven lathe.

The company expands for the second time: a building is purchased on Neptunstrasse in Zurich-Hottingen.

Production of the first seating furniture, height-adjustable piano stools, begins.

The first patent: a proprietary mechanism which allows the seat‘s height to be quickly and infinitely adjusted by simple operating means. Production of the first model series with this mechanism (swivel chair type no. 111) lasts over 60 years, i.e. until 1970.

The building on Neptunstrasse is sold, to be replaced by larger premises on Hottingerstrasse in Zurich, comprising workshops and a residential house.

Following the early death of the founder, Heinrich Girsberger, his son Wilhelm takes over the management of the company. The company is renamed «Wilhelm Girsberger, Mechanische Drechslerei und Stuhlfabrik» (Wilhelm Girsberger, Mechanical Turnery and Chair Factory).

The effects of the global economic crisis and the Second World War are also felt in Switzerland, especially in an economic sense: thrift and attempts to secure orders characterize daily life. Any money saved is invested in the development of new products. Clear and simple shapes, inspired by the Bauhaus designs, and ergonomically oriented functions become increasingly important.

Model 486

An office swivel chair made of solid beechwood with infinite height adjustment and shock-absorbing seat suspension.

A new factory building on Tramstrasse in Zurich-Schwamendingen: New machinery in well-lit production facilities provides a modern environment and conditions for series production.

Model 3001

This very robust and versatile chair, a resilient construction of steam-bent wood, is a two-colour model: Natural wood/black or natural wood/red.

Death of Wilhelm Girsberger.
A brief review of his working life in difficult times: as a young man, Wilhelm Girsberger did military service throughout both the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945). In spite of these obstacles and the global economic crisis, Wilhelm Girsberger continued to develop the company. During his long periods of military service, he was able to rely on the dedicated support of his wife, Rosa Girsberger-Pfister, and the strong sense of duty of loyal employees. Wilhelm Girsberger was also President of the Swiss Association of Master Turners over a period of several years..

After Wilhelm Girsberger‘s death, his heirs take over the company and convert it into a limited partnership under the name of «Girsberger Co. Stuhl und Tischfabrik» (Girsberger Co. Chair and Table Factory). The unlimited partners are Wilhelm Girsberger (born 1927), Heinrich Girsberger (born 1929) and Magdalena Girsberger (born 1931). Rosa Girsberger-Pfister, widow of the deceased, is a limited partner.

Model 71

Design: Ero Saarinen

The primary design feature of this chair is its non-flexible backrest which is made from pressed wood fibre. Manufactured and distributed under licence from Knoll, USA.

The city of Zurich continues to grow. A shortage of space and high prices for building land make it impossible to expand the business in Zurich-Schwamendingen. An unconventional search for inexpensive industrial land with good traffic access ends in Thunstetten-Bützberg, a municipality in the canton of Berne. After a construction and installation period of only five months, the whole business is transferred from Zurich to Bützberg. Almost all the employees follow the company to the canton of Berne.

The continuous expansion of the production site in Bützberg begins with the first structural extension.

Girsberger, Bützberg (The picture shows the location in the year 2000)

Model 4050

Design: Benedikt Rohner

The main characteristics of this three-legged armchair are its veneered wood shell and the curved framework of flat steel, thermolacquered in black or chromium.

Double-shell chair

Design: Jürg Bally

A glue-laminated plywood shell, formed under high pressure and finished with an exclusive surface veneer.

Model 9052

Chromed rectangular steel tube. Framework and backrest in wood, upholstered.

The first subsidiary in a foreign country: The incorporation of Girsberger GmbH in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. A modest beginning: Four employees work together in an older building to produce office and conference chairs as well as lounge suites for reception areas.

The product range is significantly expanded, and standardized layouts for documentation give the company a new image.

In Germany, the company buys industrial land from the town of Endingen and builds a modern factory, starting with a production and warehouse space of 1,300 m2. This production location will undergo continuous expansion in subsequent years.

Model 5600

Design: Fritz Makiol

Revolutionary design, construction and material concept: The first office swivel chair on the market with the whole load-bearing structure made of steel, die-cast aluminium and die-cast plastic components. A single lever is used for the infinite adjustment of both seat height and backrest tilt.

Model 3700

Design: Fritz Makiol

Plastic framework at the sides. Steel tubes are used for the chair‘s legs and crossbars. The seat and backrest are made of shaped plywood. Compression moulding attaches the plastic parts to the steel tubes, thus eliminating screws and glue and shortening assembly time. The 3700 model range is still sold today, thanks to its robustness and a later redesign of timeless character.

A giant step across the Atlantic: The foundation of Girsberger Industries Inc. in Smithfield, North Carolina, USA. Production begins with only eight employees working in a rented factory building (see picture). In 1981 this still-new subsidiary buys the land and building. In the following years, the American production location will undergo continuous expansion.

Trilax

Design: Fritz Makiol

A new, internationally patented triple-joint movement technology. The only office swivel chair in the world with supporting structures made of GMT (glass mat thermoplastic) connecting the seat, lumbar and backrest .
Trilax was an important part of the Girsberger product range for 29 years.

Model 9500

Design: Dieter Stierli

The first cantilever chair for the residential furniture sector, made of steel tubes and with belt-supported upholstery. The 9500 model series chairs are still successful visitor and conference chairs for the office sector.

100 years of Girsberger
Wilhelm Girsberger and Heinrich Girsberger

The newly incorporated Tuna Girsberger Tic. AS in Istanbul, Turkey provides the third production location. Girsberger Holding AG holds 50% of the shares, the other 50% are in the hands of the Tuna families. The company manufactures almost all the office chairs in the Girsberger product range. Additional model series are developed and produced for the Turkish and Gulf region markets, distribution is handled by the TunaOfis company. The factory is in Silivri, with sale and showroom centres in Istanbul and Ankara.

A new building for Girsberger GmbH in Endingen, Germany. Built 500 metres to the north of the company‘s original location and comprising production, warehouse, showroom and administration. The necessary industrial land is acquired from the town of Endingen.

A change of generation: For over 40 years and with a great sense of responsibility and commitment, Heinrich and Wilhelm Girsberger have guided the company along the path to success. Michael Girsberger, who has worked abroad for 16 years – 14 of which for a large and globally active industrial conglomerate – becomes CEO of Girsberger Holding AG and assumes responsibility for the management of the group of companies. Wilhelm and Heinrich Girsberger continue as members of the Board of Directors of Girsberger Holding AG for several more years.

Balzaro

Design: Kurt Müller

The first Girsberger chair with a frame of stainless steel and a shell of core leather.

The product ranges for residential and office furniture are streamlined. The Home and Office divisions are inaugurated, with new objectives.
Production in Switzerland, especially the processing of solid wood, metal and surfaces, is increased considerably in order to promote the successful development of the Home division.
Order-related production for the Office division is centred in the factories in Germany, the USA and Turkey.
In spite of these organizational changes, including the cross-border relocation of production and logistics, no jobs are lost.

A new building with reception area, showroom, product development and administration. This building puts its mark on the company location in Bützberg. During the same year, the company acquires a new image under the «Girsberger seating» trademark.

Permesso

Design: Kurt Müller

The traditional dining room bench reinterpreted. Strikingly reduced to the essentials, and with structural simplicity.

Franz

Design: Kurt Müller

A new technique for extendable tables whereby, for the first time ever, the two leg pairs of a solid wood table can be drawn apart to extend the length of the table. The table can be lengthened by up to one metre in this way. The extension leaves are stored directly under the tabletop for easy handling.

The third business area is created with Girsberger Customized Solutions (now Customized Furniture). The high percentage of production work carried out in-house and the resulting flexibility enable Girsberger to produce customized furniture to the specific requirements of architects for conference and training rooms and for catering and lounge areas.

Customer Service becomes Service & Remanufacturing (now just Remanufacturing) – Girsberger's fourth area of activity. The focus is on economic and environmental aspects: office chairs and furniture should not be simply thrown away and replaced, but remain in use for longer with professional servicing and full restoration.

Reflex

Design: Dieter Stierli

The new and internationally patented backrest uses the characteristics of its materials to support and relieve the user‘s back in exactly the right places. Reflex and its matching visitor chair Connexion attract the attention of a wide audience. Reflex receives the Red Dot Design Award.

The existing subsidiaries with showroom centres in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam and London are completely redesigned by the architect Dante Bonuccelli. With the exception of Paris, this involved larger premises in new locations. Additional Girsberger offices with showrooms were opened in Madrid and Hamburg.

The Home business area is renamed Girsberger Dining. This name illustrates the range's focus on the dining area of the home. The Dining collection comprises tables, chairs and sideboards, most of which are made of solid wood.

Modell 1600

Girsberger in-house design 1961

New edition of the successful model from 1963.

The Modell 1600 captured the spirit of the times in the 1960s and was a great success. The original chairs, some of which can still be found for instance in Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, are today selling as modern classics.

 

Girsberger Solid Wood becomes the fifth area of business. Girsberger manages timber stores in Bützberg and Koblenz with a total of 3,500 cubic metres of carefully dried wood from larch, oak, elm, walnut and cherry trees. From these stores, Girsberger supplies carpentry businesses with high-quality solid wood from all over Europe.

Camiro

Design: Martin Ballendat

Girsberger launches a new line of swivel chairs that accommodates new ways of organizing offices. Camiro has been specially designed for flexible workplaces, where several employees use the same chair. The functional swivel chair therefore has automatic spring tension adjustment in the backrest.

G 125

Design: Mathias Seiler

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the company's foundation, Girsberger presents a new kind of wooden swivel chair. The G 125 evokes the early days of the company, when Girsberger made a name for itself as a specialist for chairs with its height-adjustable piano stools. The G 125 was crowned Best of the Best at the Red Dot Award 2015.

Customized Furniture is increasingly becoming a business area with great potential. Here, Girsberger implements the designs of architects and planners according to their individual ideas. This provides clients with a wide range of design options in terms of corporate branding, in their search for special technical solutions or when implementing unusual formats.

Model 111

In-house design 1910

This workshop stool, which dates back to 1910, is now being relaunched. It is a landmark design in Girsberger’s history, as a patent for the height-adjustment mechanism from that time documents this key milestone in the company’s evolution from a woodturner's workshop to a chair manufacturer.