Lounge chairs are back in vogue these days. But did you know that the most iconic models are often more than 60 years old? From the Barcelona Chair to the Egg Chair to the Boomerang Chair, all date back to the 1950s or even much earlier. An overview of the most celebrated lounge chairs that have won a place in the collective memory and in our own list of design favourites.
The Barcelona Chair is perhaps the most coveted lounge chair in the world. The fact that the renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed it has a lot to do with that. Together with Lilly Reich, he developed the chair for the 1929 World's Fair in Barcelona. The aim was to design a modern royal lounge chair for the German pavilion, which was part of the fair. An ambition that soon became reality. When the King and Queen of Spain visited the pavilion, the Barcelona Chair served as a throne. And the rest is history. After Knoll put the chair into production in 1953, it became an overnight design classic. Still today, the royal design is the icing on the cake of many an interior.
Charles and Ray Eames are two absolute icons. Their Eames Lounge Chair all the more so. The couple designed the chair in 1956 as a gift for friends. The aim was to create a piece of furniture that had the "warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt". Their approach in particular was revolutionary: Charles and Ray Eames developed a technique for forming plywood and fibreglass into ergonomic seating shells. The method is still in use today and the Eames Lounge Chair has become a veritable status symbol. The chair is one of the most popular in the world. As a result, it is also one of the most imitated. Want to own the real thing? Then you need to go to Vitra. At Vitra you can configure the Eames Lounge Chair to your tastes and choose the type of wood, upholstery and colour of the base. Complete the relaxing experience with the Lounge Chair Ottoman.
Sometimes, as a designer, you don't have to look too far. Marcel Breuer designed this chair in 1925 based on a fascination with the simple and timeless form of a bicycle frame. The design consists of curved tubes in nickel-plated steel with strips of material in different widths connected between them. It was a revolutionary design at the time, today it is one of the most famous chairs in the world. The first versions were manufactured by Thonet, then under the original name 'Model B3'. Only later did the manufacturer Gavina call the chair "Wassily," in reference to painter Wassily Kandinsky who was a huge fan of the design. Knoll acquired Gavina in 1968, with the main aim of securing the Breuer collection. The patent has since expired, so the Model B3 is marketed by various suppliers around the world. Nevertheless, Knoll still has the rights to the name 'Wassily Chair'.
The Fritz Hansen Egg Chair is nothing short of a masterpiece. In 1958, Arne Jacobsen presented it to the general public at the Formes Scandinaves Exhibition in Paris. After all these years, it is still one of the most popular pieces of furniture in existence. Jacobsen initially designed the chair for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, which he had also designed. The brief was to create a soft, organic interior object that envelopes you and therefore completely shields you from the hustle and bustle of the hotel lobby. The Dane first made a trial model in clay, sculpting for days to perfect the shape. The final product consists of an egg-shaped bucket of firm foam, upholstered by hand in fabric or leather. The swivel base is made of polished aluminium and features a tilt mechanism that you can easily adjust to your weight. As such, the Egg Chair offers safety and privacy, and you can completely shut yourself off from a crowded area.
The Coconut Chair was designed by George Nelson in 1955. The chair radiates the 1950s: minimalist, playful and unconventional, but also exceptionally functional. The furniture gets its name from the sculpted shape of the sitting part: a spacious triangular husk which, according to the designer, looks "like a piece of a coconut broken into eight pieces". As a user, you are free to sit however you want. The first Coconut Chairs were made of bent steel, covered with a thick layer of foam rubber covered with fabric or imitation leather. Over the years, the steel was replaced with white fibreglass-reinforced plastic. This made the husk seamless, which further slimmed down the design. You can find the chair everywhere these days, from hotel lobbies to office environments and in people's homes.
The Artifort Ribbon Chair was designed by Pierre Paulin in 1966, for which he won the American Industrial Design Award a few years later. The fact that the French designer was trained as a sculptor can clearly be seen in the almost sculptural design of the chair. The Ribbon Chair is an artistic, somewhat futuristic object and a fine example of the applied art that was so popular in the 1960s. The organic shapes of the arm and back flow into each other and meet in a wooden base. Despite these unconventional contours, the chair is extremely comfortable. A tubular metal frame, encased in moulded foam and covered with a stretchable fabric, ensures optimal comfort. For the complete lounge effect, you can add a matching Ottoman.
Gianfranco Frattini is one of the most famous Italian designers of the 1970s. His most important work: the Sesann collection, which reflects a new vision of contemporary life. Frattini wanted to devise a highly ergonomic way of sitting that allowed people to relax and unwind more. The design consists of a circular frame which clasps, as it were, around the seat upholstery, and therefore appears to form one large enveloping piece of furniture. With its generous, inviting shapes, the Sesann is the absolute epitome of a chair to plop down in and stay there.
The 1950s were big business for the lounge chair. 1956 also saw the launch of the Boomerang, which still today is hailed as one of the icons of Danish design. The chair was designed by the duo Hvidt & Mølgaard. They chose a simple but streamlined form that goes back to basics. Features include the hand-polished wooden frame, slim brass legs, modest armrests and thin cushions. The fact that the chair can still be bought today is mainly thanks to &Tradition. For a long time, it seemed that the Boomerang Chair had fallen into oblivion, until the manufacturer recently delved into the old archives. The chair has been in their collection since 2020, which is clearly something to celebrate for lovers of design.
Are you interested in any of the above-listed design classics? Or is there something else on our website that has caught your eye? Give us a call, we're here to help!