Although the chaise longue, a type of reclining chair long enough to accommodate the legs, has been an established type since antiquity, its most iconic design is probably the steel and leather ‘LC4’ chaise longue, designed in 1928 by the French modernist architect Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand and manufactured today by Cassina, and whose main innovation was its adjustable reclining seat.
The Bauhaus version arrived in 1929, courtesy of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with the luxuriously upholstered ‘MR Lounge Chaise Longue’, produced by Knoll International; whilst Marcel Breuer’s more minimal ‘Breuer deck chair mod. 1096’ from 1933, produced by Embru-Werke AG, introduced the modern chaise longue to the exterior. Innovation continued in 1937, with Artek introducing Alvar Aalto’s ‘Lounge Chair 43’, a laminated wood cantilever chaise that placed emphasis on natural materials.
In the post-war period, Charles and Ray Eames continued the formal and material development with the 1948 ‘La Chaise’, in which an asymmetrical, organically shaped shell is supported by slender steel legs on a wooden base. In their later design for the ‘Soft Pad Chaise ES 106’ from 1968, more emphasis is given to the elegant construction and luxurious leather padding. Both models are manufactured by Vitra. The 1952 ‘Bertoia asymmetric chaise’, by Harry Bertoia for Knoll International, combines comfort with an organic shape and a graceful steel wire mesh to produce yet another enduring classic.
Faced with such formidable legacy, more recent and contemporary designs often refine and build upon the strengths of their predecessors. The simple, yet daring, gestural quality and visual lightness of ‘PK24™’ designed in 1965 by Poul Kjærholm and manufactured by Fritz Hansen can be seen in Redaelli’s 2002 ‘Axent’ designed by Giuseppe Viganò, but also in Flávia Pagotti Silva’s 2003 ‘Paulistana’ for Decameron Design and in Andreu World’s 2009 ‘Trenza’, designed by Lievore Altherr Molina.
A more sculptural approach to chaises longues is just as viable as demonstrated by Geoffrey Harcourt’s 1970 ‘Chaise Longue’ for Artifort, designed as a single cantilevered, dramatic gesture; as well as by the 1991 Tom Dixon-designed ‘The Bird | TD/6T’ by Cappellini, which combines two colliding shards into a functional product; and by the organically shaped and sheared seat of the 2008 ‘MYchair Lounge’, manufactured by Walter Knoll and designed by the architecture firm UN Studio.