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From tower to table: Interior design classics created by famous architects

As the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said: “A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is easier.” However, or maybe because of this, many architects have set themselves the challenge of designing furniture and furnishings in the past few decades. Bringing just as much creative energy and innovative thinking to this as they did to their architectural projects, they wrote design history.

An armchair with charisma: The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen

“The Egg”, which became famous as the Egg Chair, combined late 60s modern design with homely comfort. Thanks to its futuristic form, the chair remains one of the most sought-after classics of interior design today.

Despite its simple symmetry, the plastic shell with cold foam upholstery is so visually succinct, that the Egg Chair is instantly recognisable, even in silhouette. Danish architect Arne Jacobsen designed it in 1958 when he was working on the SAS hotel in Copenhagen, the interior of which was systematically planned by Jacobson, from its furniture right through to the cutlery. Many of these pieces subsequently became classics of Scandinavian post-war modernism. Today, manufacturer Fritz Hansen offers the Egg Chair in a range of differently coloured leather covers, from timeless blue-grey to cognac brown.

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Making waves for more sustainability: Wiggle Side Chair by Frank Gehry

The architect Frank Gehry became a pioneer in ecological interior design, probably unintentionally, by boosting the popularity of cardboard furniture with his "Easy Edges" furniture range. Starting with an idée fixe, he began experimenting with corrugated cardboard, gluing, cutting, and moulding it until he managed to create a sturdy block. And in 1972, he launched a range of cardboard furniture, including the “Wiggle Side Chair”, whose raw material isn’t in fact the most unusual aspect.

With its undulating waves of folded cardboard, the chair looks more like a sculpture than something to sit on. The waves, which have been glued together and cut to shape, derive their stability from supporting hardboard. Today, the Wiggle Side Chair is marketed by Vitra, a Swiss company, for whom Frank Gehry also designed the company premises and Vitra Design Museum, among other things.

The Wiggle Side Chair by Frank Gehry; source: Vitra

Rolf Benz 290: Modular seating system for increased communication

Is a spontaneous chat in the hotel lobby or open-plan office not really your thing? Stuttgart-based Behnisch Architekten want to change that with their modular 290 seating range. In collaboration with Rolf Benz, the company from which it got its name, a line of furniture was developed with the aim of meeting the differing needs of public spaces with the utmost flexibility.

As a result, all elements, from individual armchairs, settees, and armrests through to repositories and side tables, can be combined in virtually any way: as grouped seating or a space-creating block, in parallel or staggered in a row. The visible solid wood frame, leather, and elaborately crafted decorative seams of the upholstery give the range a look that is both classy and sustainable. Available in a range of colours, the seating line is intended to create a friendly atmosphere that positively encourages communication.

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Hidden Dragon sofa: Island landscape as designer furniture
For its 60th birthday, Italian interior design company Moroso didn’t commission a designer, but instead asked Chinese architect Zhang Ke, of Standardarchitecture, to design seating for the festivities.

The result: The Hidden Dragon sofa, complete with blazing red mountain landscape, was a big draw for visitors seeking a few moments’ rest at the 2012 Milan Design Week. Accessible from all sides and supported only by four slim metal legs, the island couch appears to float in the room as an elongated mass with asymmetric hills that curve to form backrests and separate recesses.

Zhang Ke's Hidden Dragon sofa; source: Moroso

Aqua Table by Zaha Hadid: Interior design without conventions

All around the world, her designs spiral into the sky and push the boundaries of conventional architecture, but monumental structures aren’t the only products of Zaha Hadid’s creativity. Thanks to Hadid’s ‘Aqua Table’, interior design collective Established & Sons achieved a record in 2006 with their very first collection: barely on the market, one of the two prototypes was auctioned off for 296,000 US dollars. Regarded as an icon of contemporary design, experts didn’t find this price at all excessive. As with her ‘Tea and Coffee Piazza Set’ the Pritzker prize winner was also able to dissolve all logic and straight lines with her Aqua Table.

The Aqua Table stretches, contorts, and curves itself into futuristic shapes on its three tapered supports, defying all forms of symmetry. As a result, the otherwise massive piece of furniture melts into the organic forms that also characterised Hadid’s buildings.

These master builders didn’t only create magnificent buildings, but also sculptures of everyday culture, and timeless interior design classics.

Source: Established and Sons

Which piece of designer furniture would work particularly well in your living room? We look forward to hearing what you think about these architects’ forays into the world of interior design.

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