for the love of chairs (and a bench)

Who doesn’t love a good chair? But what turns a good chair into a design classic? And is there room for these chairs in a hotel setting?

We all have our personal favourites, and pointed at a beautiful vista just about any chair will do, but sitting in a design classic, like the Barcelona chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, definitely enhances the experience.


The Barcelona

The Barcelona was originally designed for the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition (held in Barcelona, thus the name). In our mind, this chair is very much a classic, modern, masculine and durable. The Barcelona’s durability that makes it suitable for a hotel setting, and we’d certainly add this design classic to an executive business suite. It’s the perfect chair for a relaxing change of pace before dinner.


the egg

Another classic is Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair which was produced in 1958 for the interior design of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Germany. With it’s hotel pedigree, the Egg Chair, certainly gets our vote. We’re seeing a resurgence of this timeless classic and given the right fabric choice this chair is very durable too. We see it as a lobby chair and the swivel makes it perfect for people-watching and the wings let the watcher remain incognito.


the wassily

The Wassily Chair, designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925, with its lightweight construction and dynamic lines is artistic, funky and timeless. Also known as the Model B3, the Wassily was revolutionary for the manufacturing methods and innovative use of bent steel tubes and canvas. It’s certainly a design classic but for a hotel, we have a few reservations (pardon the pun). For a high-end suite, yes. But we feel that the Wassily is best used as an occasional chair. The leather can stretch with over use and is difficult to keep clean.  We’re always thinking about operational costs for our clients in our design selection and this one, as beautiful as it is, just misses the mark.


the bench

Our favourite chair right now isn’t really a chair. It’s a bench. But a bench that fits beautifully with modern hospitality design. It’s he Florence Knoll Bench.

Florence Knoll is an American architect and furniture designer who studied under Mies van der Rohe (the designer of the Barcelona chair, can you see the resemblance?). Florence said of her bench that it was a “fill-in piece”, but it’s now widely held as a design classic and for good reason. For a hotel, this classic holds many possibilities; foot of a bed, elevator vestibule, guest corridor, spa, casino. The list goes on.

Maybe you’re thinking design classics are nice but expensive? Yes, the original can be pricey but well worth the investment in our mind. Take the few pieces we’ve discussed, most date from the early part of this century yet all are completely modern and would look fresh in any hotel opening today.

Good design is lasting design and if a design lends itself to a hard working environment like a hotel, then it’s investment pays off, if chosen well and placed well. We appreciate good design when we see it, and so will your guests.