A recent discovery of Pedro Friedeberg’s HAND CHAIR left me so intrigued by its tremendous influence in the world of interior design, that I decided to explore other iconic chairs that personify great design in so many ways.
With so many wonderful chairs to choose from, I narrowed my selection to stunningly sculptural chairs that have organic shapes, exceptional comfort and of course ~ longevity. In this blog post, I explore the designer, history, and craftsmanship of these six iconic wonders.
Owning any one of these authentic icons would be the ultimate design dream come true…!! However, it would be a impossible for me to choose just one.
PLATNER ARM CHAIR
WARREN PLATNER 1919-2006 American architect & interior designer
Originally introduced by Knoll in 1966, the Platner Collection is an icon of modern furniture.
In the 1960s, Warren Platner transformed steel wire into a sculptural furniture collection, thus creating a design icon of the modern era. The furniture’s unique, harmonious forms are produced by welding curved vertical steel wire rods to circular frames, producing a moiré effect and capturing the decorative, gentle and graceful quality that Platner sought to achieve. Metal components are available in two finishes: polished nickel or metallic bronze with a clear protective coating. The seating collection includes a side chair and a lounge chair with complementary stool.
Artist Pedro Friedeberg is the last surviving member of the Mexican Surrealists. In one of his most famous works, Hand Chair (1961), the artist melds practical furniture design into the shape of a giant hand. It remains popular worldwide.
The Story behind the chair ~
When artist Pedro Friedeberg ’s mentor—the painter and sculptor Mathias Goeritz—left Mexico City for a vacation in 1962, he asked the young Surrealist a favor: Give a favorite local carpenter some work. “I told him to make a hand,” Friedeberg remembers. “Then I said, ‘Why don’t you make it big enough to sit on.’ I thought that would be funny.” When Goeritz returned, he and Manhattan dealer Georges Keller asked to see what Friedeberg had been up to. “Georges told me, ‘These are wonderful! I want two for New York, two for Switzerland, and two more for Paris.’
ARNE JACOBSEN 1902-1971 Danish architect & furniture designer
The Egg was originally designed in 1958 for the lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The hotel was Jacobsen’s largest commission to date and he designed everything in it, from the façade to the furniture, lighting and cutlery.
The Egg’s curved shape was quite unusual for its time and it came about because of an equally unusual reason: Jacobsen wanted the interior of the hotel to be a direct contrast to the modernist exterior. The soft, organic lines of the Egg were to provide a refuge from the harsh glass and steel.
When it was first exhibited, the Egg became something of a landmark in modern furniture design as it was made using new materials and a new construction method – a foam shell covered by upholstery. This opened up a world of possibility for other designers at the time.
EERO SAARINEN 1910-1961 Finish-American architect & industrial designer
The Tulip Chair was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955 and 1956 for the Knoll Company of New York City. It was designed primarily as a chair to match the complementary dining table. The chair, a classic of industrial design, has the smooth lines of modernism and was experimental with materials for its time.
With the Pedestal Collection, Eero Saarinen vowed to eliminate the “slum of legs” found under chairs and tables with four legs.
Drawing on his early training as a sculptor, Saarinen refined his design through full scale models, endlessly modifying the shape with clay. “What interests me is when and where to use these structural plastic shapes. Probing even more deeply into different possibilities one finds many different shapes are equally logical—some ugly, some exciting, some earthbound, some soaring. The choices really become a sculptor’s choice.”
LUDWIG MIES VAN DER ROHE 1886-1969 German architect
Mies van der Rohe designed this chair for his German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition of 1929. The Pavilion was the site of the inaugural ceremony for the German exhibits at the exposition, and the Spanish king was to preside. It had to be an “important chair, a very elegant chair,” according to the architect.
One of the most recognized objects of the last century, and an icon of the modern movement, the Barcelona Chair exudes a simple elegance that epitomizes Mies van der Rohe’s most famous maxim–“less is more.” Each Barcelona piece is a tribute to the marriage of modern design and exceptional craftsmanship.
HARRY BERTOIA 1915-1978 Italian-born American artist
The Diamond Chair, designed in 1952, is an astounding study in space, form and function by one of the master sculptors of the last century. The chair became part of the “modern” furniture movement of the 1950s, later referred to as Midcentury Modern. Like Saarinen and Mies, Bertoia found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art. to as Midcentury Modern.In the span of a couple of years, Bertoia completed severalHarry Bertoia’s wire chairs are among the most recognized achievements of mid-century modern design and a proud part of the Knoll heritage.