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Sometimes, the most beautiful things in life are also the most uncomfortable. Take modernist chairs, for example. While trawling through vintage furniture pages on Instagram, we discovered that impracticality was a common theme among chair designs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. A time when lines were blurred between art and design, and innovation was of the essence, the mid-century era produced some pretty uninviting yet truly iconic chairs.
Check out our four faves below.
1. Hyaline Chair, Fabio Lenci
With its plush, undulating leather seat, this chair looks as though it would be somewhat comfortable were it not encased within two claustrophobic glass panels. The Hyaline Chair was conceived in the ‘70s by Italian furniture designer Fabio Lenci, best known for his statement pieces that combined a comfortable material like leather with glass, perspex or steel. Can you imagine curling up on this one with a good book and hot cuppa? No, neither can we.
2. Wassily Chair, Marcel Breuer
Envisioned by the legendary Marcel Breuer, the Wassily Chair is a modern classic that forever changed the course of contemporary furniture design when it emerged in the 1920s. Today, the chair is experiencing a huge cultural resurgence, popping up more and more frequently on the likes of Pinterest and Instagram. Inspired by the frame of a bicycle (a famously very uncomfortable vehicle) this inimitable creation is all leather straps, brushed chrome and elemental lines – a bold and decidedly architectural addition to the modern living space.
3. Ring Chair, Maria Pergay.
First thing’s first: a chair built from sharp, cold and rigid stainless steal was never made to be sat on. This chair should be regarded as an exquisite and timeless piece of art, not furniture. Glad we cleared that up. Coined Ring Chair, this alluring composition is one of Maria Pergay’s most iconic pieces – inspired by the process of peeling an orange with a single cut. One of the first designers to embrace industrial materiality in her work, Pergay’s decades-long career has been defined by an incessant love affair with stainless steel. We adore it, just don’t make us sit on it.
4. Ekstrem Armchair, Terje Ekstrom
Apparently, this chair is more comfortable and ergonomic than its appearance may suggest. From Norwegian furniture designer Terje Ekstrom, Ekstrem Arm Chair (translating to ‘extreme arm chair’) is defined by a sculptural, somewhat humanoid form that is said to support a range of sitting positions, softened by wooden upholstery and polyurethane foam. A study in unconventional beauty, this unique composition is a true icon of the late ‘70s design movement.