Lounge chairs constitute one of the most expansive and diverse product groups. Having always been representative objects, both at home and in an office, lounge chairs have become a vehicle for countless architects, designers, artists and manufacturers to express their particular vision of well-being and comfort.
For some, comfort lies in tradition, and so Fleming & Howland’s ‘Howland’ lounge chair is inspired by 19th century chesterfields, while Poltrona Frau’s ‘1919’ is an early 20th century lounge chair that includes a small, swiveling, brass tray. Viennese Secession architect Josef Hoffmann anticipates modernism with his 1910 ‘Kubus’ lounge chair, a strict, geometric seat upholstered in a square pattern, now manufactured by Wittmann.
Modernism favoured formal and material innovation, resulting in such iconic designs as Marcel Breuer’s 1925 ‘Wassily Lounge Chair’, a delicate tubular steel structure with strips of leather supporting the body, now produced by Knoll International; Eileen Gray’s ClassiCon-produced, asymmetric ‘Non Conformist’ lounge chair; or Le Corbusier’s, Pierre Jeanneret’s and Charlotte Perriand’s ‘LC2’ by Cassina, in which large, angular, leather cushions are inserted into an elegant steel frame.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s classically proportioned ‘Barcelona chair’ unites a seductive curved frame and hand-crafted leather cushions, while Alvar Aalto’s 1932 ‘Armchair 41 Paimio’ for Artek combines sensuous curves of bent, laminated wood with modernist formal reduction.
Post war period continued experimenting, with designs becoming increasingly more relaxed, such as George Nelson’s 1955 ‘Coconut chair’, a large,upholstered, fibreglass plastic cone; or Charles and Ray Eames’s luxurious ‘Lounge Chair’, a segmented seat with a rosewood veneer shell, thick, buttoned upholstery and an aluminium base; both now made by Vitra. Pierre Paulin’s 1967 ‘Tongue’ lounge chair for Artifort is an abstract, nonchalant, upholstered, gesture.
Contemporary designers continue pushing the envelope, whether it is Karim Rashid’s ‘Doux butaca llum’ for Vondom, a translucent, internally illuminated polyethylene lounge chair; Jean-Marie Massaud’s ‘Crystal Lounge’ for Glas Italia, in which a glass base holds upholstered cushions; or Marcel Wanders’s ‘Knotted Chair | KC1’ for Cappellini, a light, transparent, woven lounge chair reinforced with epoxy resin.