Iconic chairs designed by architects is today’s topic!
Architects are, by definition, those who take designing buildings as their vocation. They are, in fact, very thorough in their designs, possessing an admirable preoccupation with details: from the beautiful windows that provide a painting-like view, the indulging entryway, to the cornice that carefully joins the walls and ceiling, framing the building beautifully.
Being this detail-oriented, it might be no surprise that architects have taken a liking to the field of furniture design, furthering their artistic vision to something of a smaller scale. And what’s better for showcasing their burning desire to push the boundaries of design and morph art and functionality into one than a chair? Something as basic as this piece of furniture is the perfect canvas for an architect to explore and experiment their architectural philosophies. And today, we bring you the top 10 iconic chairs designed by famous architects!
1. Barcelona Chair, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Probably not even needing an introduction, the Barcelona Chair was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. Unlike the other designers of the Bauhaus, who wanted mass-produced and functional furniture for the “common man”, Mies van der Rohe took a different approach and conceived what is perhaps the most iconic example of an architect-designed chair. Making use of luxury materials, the chair was handcrafted for the Spanish Royalty, making it a rather expensive furnishing.
2. Eames Lounge Chair, Charles and Ray Eames
Another good example for iconic chairs designed by architects is the Eames Lounge Chair, designed by the husband-and-wife duo, Charles and Ray Eames, in 1956. Aiming to satisfy the desire for an armchair that combined comfort with high quality craftsmanship, the couple developed this light and elegant chair, combining different woods with a leather upholstery cover. Thanks to these qualities, Charles and Ray Eames set new standards and guaranteed a spot for themselves in the history of modern furniture.
3. Red and Blue Chair, Gerrit Rietveld
Designed in 1918 by Gerrit Rietveld, the Red and Blue Chair was originally fully black. Exploring the interaction of the vertical and horizontal planes like he did in his architecture, Rietveld only added the primary colors in 1923, influenced by the Dutch de Stijl art movement. Like his de Stijl colleagues, including the highly regarded painter Piet Mondrian, Rietveld’s ultimate goal was to achieve not only physical comfort, but also the well-being of the spirit.
4. Wiggle Chair, Frank Gehrry
Known for experimenting with unusual materials and design, Frank Gehry designed the Wiggle Chair in 1972. Before becoming the mind behind the Guggenheim Museum, Gehry conceived the Wiggle Chair by using pieces of corrugated cardboard shaped into an “S”, creating a strong piece suitable for everyday use. This creative use of everyday materials became a part of a furniture series called “Easy Edges”, strongly inspired by scrap industrial packing material.
5. Bowl Chair, Lina Bo Bardi
The Bowl Chair is a bowl-shaped seat that rests on top of a metallic ring supported by four thin legs, designed by Lina Bo Bardi in 1951. Bardi’s simple, yet sophisticated design was revolutionary for her time, challenging the norms. By introducing a rounder shape to her piece, the architect displays her natural and liberating vision of design, encouraging the use of organic forms.
6. LC2 Chair, Le Corbusier
When we talk about iconic chairs, we can’t forget Le Corbusier’s pieces. The LC2 armchair was designed for the 1929 exhibition “Salon d’Automne” in Paris, dubbed “domestic equipment” by its creators. The four separate cushions being held together by a metal frame were created to enhance conversation and, for that reason, this is a chair often seen in social settings. The perfect balance of form and function made this armchair become so widely well-known.
7. Alta Armchair, Oscar Niemeyer
Designed in 1971, the Alta Armchair is the first work of Oscar Niemeyer in collaboration with his daughter, Anna Maria. Similar to Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, Niemeyer’s design is simple yet elegant. This sophisticated chair exemplifies the exquisite curves present in Oscar Niemeyer’s modern architecture.
8. Papa Bear Chair, Hans Wegner
In 1951, Hans Wegner designed what is perhaps one the most comfortable chairs to ever exist: the Papa Bear Chair. This big, upholstered armchair will give you the warm feeling of being hugged by a bear, hence its name. With great understanding of materials, construction and techniques, Wegner carefully designed this piece to give you the experience of the perfect cradled seat.
9. Wassily Chair, Marcel Breuer
While at the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer designed the remarkable Wassily Chair in 1925. Inspired by bicycles handlebars, this seemingly complicated chair is made out of steel tubes. The chair, originally named B3, took the name of the famous abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky after the artist declared to be a fan of the design. Nowadays, Breuer is probably more recognized for his chairs than for his actual architectural works, winning a place in this top 10 of iconic chairs.
10. Egg Chair, Arne Jacobsen
The emblematic Egg Chair designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen remains timeless. Making use of unconventional design techniques, Jacobsen was really ahead of his time: the use of a strong foam inner shell under the upholstery was truly revolutionary. Its shape and materials provide a sense of privacy, while also exploring fluidity and sensuality using curves and rejecting straight lines.
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