A classic designer chair can make any living space. They’re not just somewhere to sit, their sculptural form can be a talking point, adding character and dominating a space, even setting the tone to how the rest of the room looks. Few designs manage to make it to iconic status but here are several whose four legs (or in one case a single leg) straddle the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman were designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1956. The classic design, made from moulded plywood and leather, has been in production ever since. Brand new, the chair in the classic leather design retails for around £4,000. However, original, vintage versions are also very collectable as they are made from Brazilian Rosewood, which is now protected. Ideal for that vintage feel the Eames chair is an evocative retro throne for those that want to chill out, read or listen to music.
A modern classic from leading French product designer Philippe Starke is the iconic, transparent Louis Ghost Chair. Starke designs a lot of furniture for the Italian manufacturer Kartell, many using durable, injection-moulded polycarbonate plastic. A clever twist on a classic Louis XVI armchair, Starke stripped back the design to just its shape. It’s the chair that isn’t there, which pulls off the double whammy of being both traditional and modern. Although it is available in black and a variety of different tints it is the clear version that is most iconic and that will pretty much go with any colour scheme. Get a lot together for a stylish dinner party or a single one makes an ideal occasional seat.
The Barcelona chair
Originally created during the German modernist movement for the International Exposition of 1929 in Barcelona, furniture manufacturer Knoll resurrected the design in the 1950s. It is a design that has managed to stay timeless and has become much copied. A popular fixture in fashionable reception areas its sleek design and smooth surfaces make it beautiful to look at, while its wide seat makes it ideal casual seating. Its low profile makes it seem to shy away from the limelight and it can often be found skulking against walls. However, arrange a few around a low table to create a relaxed place to sit and mingle with friends.
Designed by Finnish furniture designer Eero Aarnio in 1963, the Ball Chair (also known as the Globe Chair) screams Sixties quirkiness like a six-foot tall lava lamp. As designs go it couldn’t have been more simple – a revolving ball sitting on a single leg. When designing the chair Aarino drew an outline of his head in a sitting position on a wall to determine the chair’s height then took in to account the need to fit it all through a doorway. It’s a big statement chair that sets a retro tone and demands to be sat in. It comes with a caché of cool and will dominate any big room making sure all eyes are on it.
The Wassily Chair
Also known as the Model B3 chair, The Wassily Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1926 while he worked at the Bauhaus in Germany. A classic of the modernist era it is simple and utilitarian in its design. The design was revolutionary in its use of materials. The bent tubular steel and canvas design had only become feasible after German steel manufacturer Mannesmann perfected a process for making strong, seamless steel tubing. This was also critical in that it allowed for mass production, which helped cement its iconic status. It inspired many similar designs and has been widely copied. It wouldn’t be out of place in a minimalist, utilitarian space where its clean angles and lines will add another dimension.