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chair in the spotlight

Add some sophisticated flair to your home décor with these iconic seating designs.

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What are home design’s equivalents to the little black dress, the well-fitted pair of jeans, the tailored suit and tie?

Many of home design’s most iconic pieces of furniture are seating. These chairs, sofas and stools have graced many well-designed homes throughout the decades, and using them is a sign of good taste when it comes to home decor.

You may have seen copies and designs inspired by these in furniture stores, but you may never have known that they were, in fact, icons of home decor. Let’s have a look at five iconic seating designs that you can easily integrate into any home decor.

Arne Jacobsen’s egg chair

Designed in 1958 for the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen, the egg chair defines the flavour of early ’60s design more than any other piece. The original chair was acid green. It has the interesting effect, at least today, of looking both retro and futuristic. We all know it was popular in the ’60s, and yet we can easily imagine it being used in a home on the Moon.

Arne Jacobson Egg Chair (2)

Designed 1958 for The Sasa Royal Hotel in Copenhagen by Arne Jacobsen, the iconic egg chair is now a part of popular culture, too. (image: The Shopping Sherpa)

The Egg chair appeared in plenty of movies, including 2001: A Space OdysseyMen In Black and Austin Powers. My favourite of all, though, is in Zoolander as evil Mugatu’s office chair, which is a nod to Dr. No, of James Bond fame.

If you like retro or modernist decors, the Egg chair is easy to integrate to your room. Use its round features to balance overly angular furniture, and pick a bright color to contrast a neutral palette.

Van der Rohe and Reich’s Barcelona chair

The first time someone sat on a Barcelona chair was in 1929 at the International Exposition in Spain, in the German pavilion. This masterpiece of modernist design has everything that makes modernism, well, modern: industrial materials (steel and chrome, leather) and minimalist lines. It has been described as the “Platonic ideal of chair” by Tom Wolfe, and for a time was a must-own for anyone who wanted to call him or herself an architect.

Mies-Barcelona-Chair-and-Ottoman

The Barcelona chair has been in production for almost 80 years since its design was implemented, with very few changes distinguishing it from the first version. (image: Miesbarcelonachair)

Having sat in one, I can tell you that they are not the most comfortable chairs around–but they do have lots of style. So although I don’t especially recommend using one if your aim is to sit in it a lot, you can certainly add one as an accent seat in a modern bedroom or living room.

If its minimalist look is too stark for you, you can spruce it up with cushions or throws… but some people would think that sacrilegious.

Harry Bertoia’s side chairs

A staple of cool cafés and bistros everywhere, Bertoia’s Side Chair, designed in 1952, owe a lot to their creator’s background in jewelry design. He weaved industrial wire rods into a chair that, although it might leave marks on your butt and back if you sit in them too long, still looks mightily cool 60 years later.

Diamond_Chair_-_Harry_Bertoia,_MNAM

This is a variation on the side chair – the diamond chair, also invented in 1952, and also starkly iconic. (image: Sandstein)

Of course, you can make these more comfortable by adding a cushion to the seating–which is the secret to using this chair in all kinds of home decor styles. You can soften the industrial look of this iconic chair by adding colors and textures with cushions. Think of the DIY opportunities!

Eames’ molded fiberglass chair

Of course, no list of iconic seating would be complete without a mention of Eames’ famous plastic chair. Designed for Herman Miller in 1950 (the company still sells it to this day), this chair was the first mass-produced fiberglass seating to be sold in the US.

417px-Charles_and_Ray_Eames_-_Plastic_Chair_1950-53

(image: Hochgeladen von Sandstein)

This chair has universal appeal. The design is instantly recognizable, yet ubiquitous enough to not draw too much attention. Today, they come in a variety of colors and styles; you can find not only the classic, pod-like design, but also many variations on the same theme. It makes it easy to fit an Eames chair in any kitchen, living room or bedroom.

Starck’s Louis ghost armchairs

Philippe Starck, one of today’s most influential designers, presented a twist on the traditional Louis XVI chair in 2002 with his Louis Ghost Armchair. The post-modern see-through plastic is the most interesting of this chair: it’s a great statement on design, art and history, all tied up into a chair.

ghost chair

(image: 水泳男)

Because it blends the traditional and the contemporary, it’s perfect for both of these styles of home decor, as well as for those with more eclectic tastes. Add a handmade cushion or leave a throw on the back to counteract the transparency effect a little bit.

Everybody loves an icon

I love the idea of adding a bit of iconic flair to my home. Even though not everyone can identify them by name, these pieces instantly give any room some style just because of their design appeal.

What do you think about adding iconic designs to your home? Or would you rather stick with more ordinary furniture? Let us know in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.