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Classic design revival: The style icons making a comeback

Classic designs always have a few characteristics in common: They are functional, simple, minimalist and elegant. Over the past century, a string of well-known designers have perfected the art of creating pieces that will stand the test of time. Here’s our round-up of ten cult designs that are making a comeback in modern interiors.

1. Multi-Lite lamp for Gubi: Shape-shifting design

In the golden era of Danish design, architect Louis Weisdorf developed the Multi-Lite pendant lamp for Gubi. The unique shape-shifting design of this interior accessory works just as well in modern homes as it did back in 1972, when it was originally created: The flexible segments can be rearranged to create direct or indirect light, which radiates from two hemispherical reflectors and cylinders suspended on a polished metal ring.

The latest versions of the design are available in blue, black and white or in polished chrome and brass finishes.

2. Panton Chair: A glowing makeover for a classic design

Verner Panton’s 1960 Panton Chair has become a symbol of the mid-century design era. Eight years after its creation, the distinctive silhouette made its public debut with design house Vitra at the interior design exhibition imm cologne. Last year, the Swiss label was celebrating the 50th anniversary of this cult classic by releasing two limited editions: the Panton Chrome and the Panton Glow. As its name suggests, the Glow model is treated with special pigmented varnish, which ‘charges’ up with daylight and takes on a magical blue hue in the dark, transforming the Panton Chair into a radiant sculptural piece.

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A Classic design revival with colourful chairs.
Glowing in the dark: A Classic design revival from Vitra.

3. Eames Fiberglass Chair: Ergonomic, practical, colourful

With its innovative materials and pragmatic take on design, the Fiberglass Chair was a revolutionary turning point in the history of design. In 1950, Charles & Ray Eames unveiled an ergonomic fiberglass seat that could be combined with a number of different base frames – creating a design that was destined to become a classic piece. In October 2018, Vitra relaunched the Eames Fiberglass Chair in its six original colours, including the eye-popping Red Orange, which is the perfect retro statement accessory for modern interiors.

4. Plumy by Ligne Roset: Comfortably classic

In the 1980s, the Plumy full-foam sofa from Ligne Roset was a best-selling piece. In 2016, the Plumy’s original inviting shape and folding head and foot rests were revived with a contemporary makeover of this somewhat unconventional sofa design. Now available with new leather and fabric covers in an on-trend colour palette, the Plumy sofas and matching ottomans are the perfect place to relax in your modern interior.

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New materials for a classic design revival.

5. Grand Prix Chair by Arne Jacobsen: A symmetrical style icon

When Arne Jacobsen first unveiled his symmetrical wooden chair design at a Danish design show, he had given it the rather unassuming name of model “3130”. However, after winning the top prize at the Milan Triennial in 1957, the piece was renamed with the more fitting title of the Grand Prix. Cult label Fritz Hansen now produces the design classic in nine different woods and two coloured versions – and the chair’s distinctive back rests are just as eye-catching today as they were back in the fifties.

6. The Tired Man by Flemming Lassen: Oversized comfort

The Oversized easy chair by Flemming Lassen is a real design rarity. The mid-1930s overstuffed chair design – appropriately named The Tired Man – was only produced for a short time, and original chairs in good condition are now fetching record prices as a result. The curved form and voluminous arm rests of the revamped design are the perfect place to rest weary legs. The generously proportioned easy chair is now available in a range of luxury fabrics, muted colours or with a fluffy sheepskin cover.

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A livingroom with classic design revivals.

7. Egg, Swan and Drop Chair: Limited anniversary editions of design classics

Arne Jacobsen’s 1958 Egg, Swan and Drop chairs have more in common with sculpted works of art than with traditional furniture. Last year – 60 years after their inception – furniture label Fritz Hansen was celebrating the ‘birthday’ of these classic pieces with a limited-edition anniversary collection. New materials in a muted colour palette have transformed the look and feel of the chairs. The label produced exactly 1958 Egg and Swan chairs, and the taupe wool Drop chair was only available during 2018.

8. Panthella Mini Chrome: An illuminating table lamp silhouette

The work of Verner Panton is characterised by organic shapes and haptic features, and the dome-shaped Panthella table lamp from 1971 is no exception. In 2016, Louis Poulsen created a brightly coloured mini version of the classic accessory. This latest addition to the range is designed around the same concept as the original: With its shimmering metal coating, the Panthella Mini in Chrome playfully interacts with its surroundings, creating unique reflections and light effects. The new high-tech version is also kitted out with an infinitely adjustable LED dimmer and a timer function.

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Panthella Mini is a classic design revival.

9. Tea Trolley 901: A mobile style icon

Inspired by the British tea-drinking culture and Japanese wood art, Alvar Aaltos's 1935 design is an aesthetically pleasing yet practical creation. The Tea Trolley 901 was originally designed in light birch, but Dutch designer Hella Jongerius has revamped the piece with two monotone variants: A full-white serving trolley and a model with a black wooden frame and dark purple wheels and tray.

10. Simply unique and uniquely simple: E27 lamp by Muuto

Designer Mattias Ståhlbom likes to play with the everyday – and what could be more everyday than a simple, unpretentious light bulb? The E27 pendant lamp designed for Danish label Muuto puts a contemporary twist on the mid-19th century invention. The minimalist aesthetic of the large LED bulb combines industrial design with Scandinavian simplicity.

As this list proves, the iconic designers of the last few decades have created some truly timeless classics that are still more than capable of making an impact in modern interiors.

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Illumination is a good example of classic design revival.
Classic design revival in industrial style.

Are there any other classic designs that you’d like to see get a contemporary makeover? Let us know in the comments!

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