Category The story of furniture

ANATOMY OF FURNITURE

Top rail

Splat

Arm support

Drop-in seat

Furniture is constantly evolving, and has been since the Ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. As time has gone by, advances in technology, the discovery of new materials, and the changing fashions of each era have done much to influence the construction, shape, and ornament of the prevailing furniture forms that we are familiar with today From the mortise-and-tenon joints of the Middle Ages to complex welds of the Industrial Age, and from traditional horsehair stuffing to electrostatic flock upholstery, there have been countless changes in the way furniture is made.

Cabriole leg

Cock-beading

Serpentine front

Apron

Ring handle

Splayed bracket foot

Frieze

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TABLES 9

THE POPULARITY OF the coffee table during the 1940s, 1950s, and, to a lesser extent, the 1960s and 1970s, meant that the large, often cumbersome dining table was left somewhat by the wayside.

During the 1980s, however, the dining table enjoyed something of a revival in elite circles. This was a decade of conspicuous consumption and an expansive, authoritative dining table served well as a status symbol. Not only did it declare that the owner had no pressing need to economize on space, it also gave the message that they were continually holding fashionable dinner parties.

Ownership of a dining table sent out much the same message in the 1990s. However, by now it was considered lacking in taste to flaunt objects of

T60 TABLES

This set of three Antonio Citterio T60 tables is produced by B&B I...

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METAMORPHIC FURNITURE

Smaller living spaces combined with a focus on function by DESIGNERS LED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSFORMABLE FURNITURE.

Teo from 2 to 3 The Siesta piece metamorphoses from a stool to a bed. The main elements of the assembled stool can be dismantled to provide a mattress and a “do not disturb sign”. Designed by Matali Crasset. 1999.

H:52cm (2014in); Diam:40cm (15%in) (dosed). MCP

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PLATE-GLASS TABLE

This large, architectural-looking table has a heavily structured frame made from matt anodized aluminium. The trestle-type legs support a detachable, rectangular plate-glass top. The table’s colour and form give it an industrial

The severe shape of these occasional tables is similar to the sculptures made by the Minimalist artist Donald Judd.

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OLIVETTI

The glass has been gently twisted to create a flat back.

THE 1970S WAS a decade when many designers finally relinquished their visions of a brave new world: no matter how many outlandish seating systems they devised, they realized that they could do little to alter natural human behaviour.

In the face of such a sobering realization, the four-legged chair with a seat and back made a determined comeback. From the mid 1970s onwards, designers worried less about challenging the archetypal form of a chair and concentrated instead on the chair’s more superficial appearance. The chair became regarded as a canvas for communication. “Chairs present potent declarations about their designers”, wrote the critic John Pile in 1990...

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OFFICE FURNITURE

ARCHIMOON CLASSIC

Philippe Starck’s version of the classic desk lamp makes use of clean lines and a smooth aluminium finish. The lamp folds and pivots to direct light as needed.

H:57cm (22Угіп); D:68.5cm (27in).

JOYN OFFICE SYSTEM

Designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, this system provides a flexible series of work stations. It has a rectangular table top and a number of movable screens that can be slotted into the table to form enclosed compartments. 2002. The dimensions vary according to the model. VIT

The Olivetti Establishment in Ivrea, Italy This large and open-plan, Rationalist-style office space was designed by Luigi Figini and Gino Pol lino.

CORNER CHAIR

This asymmetric, upholstered chair is part of a range of reception furniture...

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MARC NEWSON

A PROLIFIC AND PASSIONATE DESIGNER WHO EMPLOYS THE LATEST COMPUTERIZED TECHNIQUES, MARC NEWSON DRAWS INSPIRATION FOR HIS SCULPTURAL DESIGNS FROM THE 1950S AND 1960S.

LEVER HOUSE RESTAURANT, NEW YORK Newson transformed the 604 square metre (6,500 square foot), subterranean, windowless restaurant at Lever House with his design. His use of hexagons and curved surfaces give the room a retro 1950s feel while the use of blonde oak and mirrored glass adds light. 2003

ORGONE LOUNGE CHAIR This lounge chair designed for Cappellini is made entirely from fibreglass and is available in a range of bright colours. It has an organic, flowing form, and stands on three tapering legs. 1992. H :50cm (192/зіп); W: 181cm (71 Уд in). В К

BUCKY CHAIR

50 of these chairs w...

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JAPAN 2

BY THE 1970S, THE EFFORTS that the Japanese furniture industry had made to align itself with Western society (and thus benefit from selling to a thriving Western market) were reaping rewards. Indeed, so comprehensively had Japanese designers caught up with their Western counterparts that when Postmodernism emerged as a dominant trend in design, the Japanese were among its leading exponents.

In 1972, Arata Isozaki produced his Marilyn chair, a protean Postmodern design that borrowed from an unlikely spectrum of sources. The chair’s curvaceous back was based on the shapely form of Marilyn Monroe, while the overall shape was clearly derived from the chair designs of the early 20th-century Glaswegian designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (see pp.364-65)...

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CAMPANA BROTHERS

“Brazil is our great fountain of inspiration”, the Campana brothers

ONCE STATED, EXPLAINING WHY THEY HAVE NEVER MOVED FROM SAO PAULO.

rolling up different materials and squeezing them into a large flexible tube. The part left uncovered forms a multicoloured seat.

H:65cm (251/2in); W:95cm (3712in).

The Corallo chair This chair, designed for Edra, has a large seat formed out of an irregular structure of hand-bent steel wire with a coral-pink epoxy paint finish. H:90cm (351/2in); W:140cm (55in); D:100cm (39‘Ain).

The Favela armchair This chair is made from many pieces of natural wood, glued and nailed together in a similar way to that in which the shacks of the favelas, or shanty towns, are built in Brazil...

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THE AMERICAS

LANDSCAPE CHAISE

This chaise longue designed by Jeffrey Bernett for B&B Italia has an orange felt-covered seat and back suspended on a nickel-coated metal base. Seams around the edges of the upholstery accentuate its design. The headrest has a magnetic fixing. 2001. H:79cm (3114in); W:61cm (24in); L:161cm (63Vain). B&B

BRASH DESIGN During the early 1980s, environmental concerns seemed to slip from the United States’ agenda as a culture of conspicuous consumption was ushered in. Wall Street traders were making millions on junk bonds while consumer confidence returned with a vengeance. Against a background of such rampant demand, the bold ideas of Postmodernism once again rose to the surface. Bright, brash, and self-consciously smart, the aesthetic espoused

The glass table ...

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EUROPE

The painted fibreboard

back panel Is redolent of marble, granite, or even open sky. _

NEW DESIGN HOT SPOTS As Postmodernism spread across the world of furniture design in the 1980s, nations with a rich history of functional Modernism began to fall from prominence. Although there were a few notable exceptions, such as Stefan Wewerka (who combined Bauhaus principles with a keen knowledge of art practice and ergonomics) and Peter Maly, Germany made little contribution to furniture design during the 1980s, and the same is true of the Scandinavian countries.

Spain, which has a rather thin history of Modern design,

This armchair was designed by Mario Botta. It has a black-lacquered aluminium frame, and the front legs and arms are shaped as huge hollow cylinders...

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