Sunday, October 4, 2009

Destined to Become a Classic?

As a designer I do my best to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of furniture designers and new furniture, although it’s not easy. Many new furniture pieces brought to market have a short shelf life due to lack of sales, costliness, or a perception that the design may be too “avante garde” to actually live with. Some pieces are intentionally produced in limited editions and perceived more as collectible art than rudimentary furnishing.

It looks like a wing chair from the front and is made from Mahogany and traditional caning in "crystalline" forms, the Lui5 designed by Phillipe Bestenheider for Fratelli/Boffi.

The "Ad Hoc" chair designed by Jean-Marie Massaud. A beautiful sculpture, but not the least bit comfortable.
When seeing furniture pieces for the first time I ask myself “Is this destined to be a classic?” Certainly a piece like the “Egg chair” designed by Arne Jacobsen must have seemed like a “flash in the pan” over 50 years ago…right? Whether designers are likely to specify this chair, or whether clients would pay to have it in their home, they still recognize it is an icon and the chair’s distinct lines are instantly recognizable. An instance that comes to mind is the designer Bunny Williams, who placed one of the chairs, married with other more traditional pieces in her room in this year’s Kip’s Bay Show house in New York. It was a welcome addition, and seemed almost conventional in the way it was used.

The now classic "Egg" chair designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958.

The most recent example of a chair that has already attained classic status is the “Louis Ghost chair” designed by Phillipe Starck first sold in 2002. A transparent, post modern version of a classic, which normally has such richness, history and detail associated with it hit just the right nerve in the design world and was embraced on a global level. The chair has proved to work equally well in either a traditional or contemporary context.
The already classic "Louis Ghost chair" designed by Phillipe Starck, and first sold in 2002.
I see chairs quite often that I find interesting, but would never consider using in my design work (some appear in this post). I applaud the creativity of designers and see the making of some “show” pieces as a way to become recognized and then go on to produce other, more approachable work.
The "Peacock" chair designed by Dror Benshetrit for Cappellini.

I find myself drawn time and time again to a handful of designers whose work always seems to resonate with my sensibilities. These designers, in my opinion have what it takes to design a classic piece.
The "Ami" line of seating by Paola Lenti. This seating can be used indoors or out.

My absolute favorite is the Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola. She has had an incredibly prolific career designing for some of the biggest names in modern furniture, such as B & B Italia, Moroso, Molteni and has even designed pieces for Anthropologie. Her work consistently hits the right chord. She has an immense understanding of materials and scale and often references culture and history in new and inventive ways. She is one of the furniture industries current luminaries and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, and I’m crazy for her!

The "Canasta" line of seating by Patricia Urquiola for B & B Italia with it's oversize caning reference.

Cheap Chic: The line of "High Wire Act" chairs designed by Patricia Urquiola for Anthropolgie at affordable prices.

The "Crinoline" chair with floral accent by Patricia Urqiola. I see a reference to the rattan "Queen" chairs from the 1970s.

I also love the work of John Reeves from England, Paola Lenti and Dror Benshetrit, who designed the “Peacock” chair for Cappellini. These artists have a point of view that, in my opinion will produce pieces worthy of standing the test of time.

The CAS1 bench by British designer John Reeves. This already looks classic to my eye.
This is certainly a subject I could go on about for weeks on end, but I won't. The only question is which chair will become a family heirloom in my home? I will keep you posted!

David Hansen


Claudia Juestel said...

Great selection David. I always enjoy learning new things from you and Barbara. We used the Ghost Chair when it first came out for the 2002 DbD event, and we Kartell gather them from different stores since they were brand new. I still like it today.

I also love Patricia Urquiola.

DennyHollandStudio said...

David~ I love my Ghost chair but April despises it! Good post.

Anonymous said...

of course we're quickly running out of room for more chairs, there might be room for one more... if we had to get one, my vote is for the Loom chair by Matteo Grassi:

Anonymous said...

What is the other kind of butterfly chair called, that is more circular?
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