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The modern chair continues to revisit the classics with conceptual strength. Sit back and enjoy.

The freshest turns in chair design are reinventions of the modern that play with balance but remain faithful to the bold geometric line.


Design classics are haunted by a perennial paradox – designers return to the classics because they inspire reinvention but they, in turn, challenge designers with their simplicity and essential appeal. Fortunately, designers dare anyway, and the results are often spectacular.

A good chair is all about balance, or the playful off-set of equilibrium. Like a good geometric equation, it is the proper relation between the circle and the square – with a touch of physics and a test of creature comfort – that make for a fine place to repose.

Recent trends in chair design tone down baroque styles to a modern tempo, such as Sebastian Brajkovic's ingenius Lathe and Driade's Miss Lacy, designed by Philippe Starck. Designers are raising or lowering the back support for a dash of daring, as well as playing with new designs in the bases and legs, using the foundation as a focal point for creativity. Trends in material hark back to the basics with unfinished woods, pure metals, and even concrete. Harald Belker's Maxelle design for Lyx touches on the industrial design of an automobile. While the novel use of industrial materials may not lend itself so much to comfort, beautiful design never claimed to be totally without sacrifice.

Occasionally, designers break from the rules of mathematical form and wax poetic, playing with a curved line or a visual interpretation of a complex algorithm, as in Vitra's Ravioli or Julian Mayor's General Dynamic Chair respectively. The classics, however, will forever constitute the primal vocabulary of a design venture. As a home object, the chair is a personal piece, while as a collector's object, it is a cult obsession. Yet as a proposition in design it may just be the ultimate challenge, and we tip our hats to those who dare.

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