Are You Sitting on a Work of Art?

Is your chair a great artwork? Discover the great school of modern furniture design and how it changed the world.

Sometimes a Chair is Just a Chair, but Sometimes It’s a Masterpiece

Your dining room chairs could be pieces of history. In fact, there’s a good possibility that most of the furniture in your home and office is influenced in some way by the school of modern furniture design. It’s a fascinating period in the history of art and certainly most modern furniture was influenced by some of the world’s greatest modern artists and architects.

The school of modern furniture design was also influenced heavily by industry and globalization. From the industrial revolution to the simple lines of Japanese furniture and the interesting shapes and curves of African art, modern furniture design is a global melting pot of ideas and elements.

Furniture for the Mass Market

The value of a piece of furniture used to be determined by how ornate it was or by the prestige of its maker. Not so with the school of modern furniture design. Many of the talented furniture designers were passionate about making great furniture available to the masses. One may be tempted to think that modern furniture means Ikea flat-pack, but the origins of modern furniture go back to the early decades of the twentieth century.

Heavily influenced by architecture, many of the most iconic pieces of modern furniture design were made by architects and artists. 

Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and American industrial designer George Nelson have produced some of the century’s most significant pieces:

furniture that is emulated and produced on a mass scale, found in nearly every home on the planet. The artists of the Bauhaus movement and the German Werkbund laid many of the foundations for mid-century furniture design that has left its mark on every country. Many designs were minimalistic in nature, although comfort was never sacrificed for design.

One of the most iconic chairs, The Tulip Armchair, was designed by Eero Sarien who introduced the pedestal design to modern furniture and worked in fibreglass and plastic.

The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen designed in 1958, and the Ball Chair by Sori Yanagi, designed in 1965 are two of the most well-known and contemporary pieces to grace the period.

Read my Modern furniture blog

Iconic Furniture

The Le Corbusier LC4 Armchair was designed by the master in 1928 and has graced furniture catalogues ever since. The original piece forms part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.

Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair is not only the forerunner of the modern office staple, it is a design found in many homes today.

The Noguchi Coffee table was designed by Japanese-American architect and landscape designer, Isamu Noguchi.


Tulip armchair - Sharone Perlstein talks about modern furniture design