As property professionals, we have the privilege of visiting beautiful homes in our work. Many of which, the interiors showcase iconic furniture, and design classic seating. With such a trend for interior styling in the home; many timeless designs are being used in the modern, everyday setting.
Do you know your Eames’ from your Wegner’s or indeed the history behind such design classics associated with them?
By renowned modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the Barcelona chair was originally designed for the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona. Mies van der Rohe intended the chairs & matching stools, for the visiting King & Queen of Spain to sit and take in his innovative scheme for the Pavilion, featuring marble, travertine & glass. It was not until much later in 1953 that Knoll were given the rights to production, and the Barcelona Chair with its signature crisscross frames have been built to Mies van der Rohes exacting standards ever since. Mies said at the time it had to be more than a chair, but “a monumental object”. Ninety years on, we are inclined to agree with him.
In the 1940’s, designers Charles & Ray Eames experimented with plywood & sheet aluminium, in order to create a one piece seat shell. The results were unsuccessful, however they soon discovered glass fibre reinforced polyester resin, a material that hadn’t been used previously in furniture production, but which was suitably mouldable & tactile. The Plastic Side Chair & Armchair were introduced in 1948 at the “Low-Cost Furniture Design” competition, then launched in 1950 as the first mass produced plastic chairs in history.
One of their main goals as furniture designers was “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least”. We agree they certainly achieved this with their designs for the Plastic Chair.
During the same decade as the introduction of the Eames Plastic Chairs, Danish designer, Verner Panton was developing ideas for a cantilever plastic chair. However, his designs were not at all well received by manufacturers; that is until Vitra established a relationship with Panton in 1963. The two parties worked together using the latest advances in plastic technologies in order that Panton’s designs could be realised. In 1968 mass production began with what became one of the 20th Century’s most iconic chair designs. Improvements to the durability of this original production technique were since made & Vitra relaunched the Panton Chair in 1999, thirty years on.
The Wishbone Chair by Danish designer, Hans J. Wegner is also known simply as the CH24 chair. Before the final precise design in 1949, with its distinctive Y-shaped back; Wegner had created a series of chairs based on studies of thrones for Chinese Emperors. Wegner was passionate about working with wood & the potential of this organic material. At this point in his career as a young furniture designer, Wegner formed a partnership with Carl Hansen & Son, Danish craftsmen & cabinetmakers who began manufacturing the Wishbone Chair for the wider audience. Since its first production, the timeless style of its elegant form in natural materials has grown ever more popular. Today, the Wishbone Chair is considered one of the most famous symbols of Danish furniture design.
The Ghost Chair by French designer Philippe Starck in 2002, reinvented the classic Louis XVI armchair. Starck simplified the antique, taking the silhouette & using the geometry to create the single clear plastic design. Although not apparent by looking at this chair, one of the most important features, is how it is made. At the time of its first manufacture, it required particular innovation, due to it being a single piece of transparent injection-moulded polycarbonate. Starck teamed up with Italian design company Kartell, known for their innovative use of plastics, for the production of the Ghost Chair, and since then further Ghost varieties have been added to the collection such as the “Lou Lou Ghost” in miniature size, because “kids need designer furniture too!”
It seems only right that our final chair, also by French designer Philippe Starck is The Masters Chair. In 2009 his design for this chair, Starck re-interprets three design classics. Taking the silhouettes of the Series 7 chair by Arne Jacobsen, the Tulip Armchair by Eero Saarinen, and the Eiffel Chair by Eames, creating an elegant combination and tribute to all three. The Masters Chair is manufactured by Kartell.
“We weren’t born just today. There have been masters before us. The masters chair brings to mind the lines of three great masters and three great masterpieces. Putting them all together they create a new product, a new project, a reflection on a new society.” – Philippe Starck