Privacy furniture are furnishings, which, though their form and material, afford their user a higher degree of privacy, both visual and acoustic. Privacy furniture is often used to furnish recess or informal meeting areas in open-plan offices, or even in larger break-out areas, in order to create more discrete clusters.
There is a great deal of diversity to be found in privacy furniture, for example, from the traditionally crafted chesterfield armchair ‘Porter’ manufactured using 19th century techniques by Fleming & Howland, to Marijn van der Pol’s ‘Kaigan’ for Ahrend, a highly abstracted image of a wicker beach chair, though wholly upholstered in fabric. Both of these designs have high backrests and curl around their users to increase their privacy.
Similar principle, though in a wholly different expression, was employed by Arne Jacobsen in 1959 in the seminal ‘EggTM’, a broad, swiveling wingchair manufactured by Fritz Hansen. Indeed, modern privacy furniture still often uses this principle, as can be seen in the tall, slender ‘Wanders’ Tulip Chair’, designed by Marcel Wanders for Cappellini in 2010. Verner Panton’s ‘Amoebe Highback’ for Vitra, remains unapologetically gestural and abstract, while providing the sitter with a low seat, a high back, and an overhead canopy.
And while Eero Arnio’s 1966 ‘Ball Chair’ by ADELTA proves to be a more intimate, smaller scale affair, where the user sits in a hollowed-out, internally upholstered ball, Alain Gilles’s ‘BuzziBooth’ for BuzziSpace is a reminder that not all privacy furniture is for sitting or reclining. Indeed, this last design is a discrete, felt covered phone booth, with a small, internal desk.
By now, one would be led to believe that privacy furniture caters exclusively to individuals, but the choice in larger-scale solutions is just as varied. Look to the traditional ‘Laval Crown Chair’ by Stellar Works, a lush, traditional sofa with a high back; or the more angular, reduced, modern ‘Smallroom’ range of privacy furniture, designed by Ineke Hans for OFFECCT. Lastly, Karim Rashid’s ‘Float Sofa 290’ for Sancal is a playful composition, where a bench is attached to a large, roughly oval, upholstered screen that features colourful cushions and coat hooks.