There are several furniture pieces which were acknowledged as classics from the day they were made, while some happen to be slow burners and therefore are but now enjoying an elevation to classic status as we have experienced time to think back at periods with better perspective. In recent times, some pieces have grown to be so familiar they almost border on cliché, such as the hanging ball seat by Eero Aarnio or even the Eames lounge chair with its matching ottoman.
It is a wonderful irony however that certain of the greatest furniture classics of the 20th century is really a lowly café seat developed in the mid nineteenth century- the Thonet bentwood chair. In the 1920s and 1930s and again in the 1960s, when Victorian furniture became all the rage in the Pop period, this elegant and sturdy yet uniquely lightweight chair had the design establishment spellbound- such is its versatility. It is still easy to locate one today but such is its status that the original now carries a museum piece price tag.
Such is its popularity however, it has spawned many an alternative and copy which are all comparatively cheap and may be found in almost any furniture store in the country. Containing nothing more than two up-ended U’s which make in the arm rests and legs, along with a reclining J which makes up the seat, the Thonet chair oozes refined elegance and style.
Most other classics tend to have been extremely labor intensive to manufacture and made from costly high-quality materials, and also have therefore remained highly exclusive and expensive pieces. One very well known example is the chair designed by Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exhibition of 1929. With its luxurious padded leather upholstery and polished steel frame, the Barcelona chair was later to become symbolic of the reception areas of chic 1950s offices and affluent penthouses. Today, due to the popularity of the Modern retro look, they’re again appearing in the same kind of locations and regularly make staring appearances in the bedrooms and living rooms of T.V. favorite Grand Designs!
Modern interiors take good furniture as their main focus, so really give your rooms something to focus on. The most iconic furniture pieces, such as the ones mentioned, are timeless. Such pieces can sit harmoniously next to good contemporary furniture if chosen and arranged confidently. There isn’t any point going to all of the trouble of sourcing out such items if you are only going to make an effort to seamlessly blend them into your modern home- display them proudly. Built a feeling of occasion around them by directing spotlights onto chairs, pulling settees off the beaten track, framing tables from underneath with colorful rugs or just choose some seating in a shade that contrasts together with your existing furniture. Add just a few carefully selected items such as ornaments or pictures that evoke a spirit of the period in which your classic furniture was made and you will have set the style and the look of the whole interior.