It’s time to stop thinking about chairs as just a place to sit. Sure, you want them to be comfortable but unusual designs and materials quickly elevate a chair from being purely functional to serving as a statement piece. Face it, these types of chairs are far more fun than the basic type. The best thing is that you don’t need to invest in more than one to make an impact. The right chair with unusual features will immediately alter the feel of a space — and at the very least it will add a dose of fun and whimsy. Maybe you’ve never explored types of unusual chairs and aren’t sure what we’re talking about, so look at these examples of fresh chair designs that will definitely attract attention.
An Urban Touch
Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh is always at the cutting edge and this chair, part of this collection created for Galerie Kreo, is no exception. Called “efflorescence,” the chair and many of the other pieces are a direct contradiction to the meaning of the word in French: to flower out. That term implies delicacy and the perishable nature of a flower, but the concrete chair is nothing like that. The piece has a very purposeful urban feeling, especially with the graffiti embellishments.
Low Slung Concrete
Mexican artist Pedro Reyes may be best known for his large-scale installations but, he also works in sculpture, architecture, video, and performance art. He has a love for concrete, which dominates his own Mexico City home, so it is no wonder he has created some amazing stone chairs like the Metal. Made from sculpted volcanic stone, it is appropriate for indoors or out and has a low-slung profile that begs to be put in a lush, green garden.
What looks like a scrub brush on the back of this plus seat is actually a construction using ixtle, a natural fiber derived from the agave plant. Designer duo ad hoc from Mexico creates furniture and objects that show off the beauty of natural materials and perpetuate the legacy of the country’s artisans. Their “Roots stool beige” is crafted with the agave fiber as well as walnut and wool and can be found at the Ammann Gallery. While it achieves all their aims, it’s also a conversation piece because if its scrub-brush vibe. The pair has been creating together since 2014
Daniel Arsham’s futuristic chair is comprised of various geometric shapes in a very asymmetrical manner. The upholstered piece is one of the variations of his Cleveland Chair. The Miami-born artist created the piece for his collaboration with the Friedman Benda Gallery in Design Miami 2019. Arsham regularly uses “architecture, performance, and sculpture to manipulate and distort understandings of structures and space.” This particular chair is certainly visually interesting but it also presents some options for sitting, which will be especially popular among those who like to sling a leg over the arm of a chair.
Forms of Fantasy
A bit of human form with a big dose of fantasy this chair by Netherlands-based designer Theophile Blandet is quite out of the ordinary. In addition to the very intriguing metal forms that make up the back of the chair, the design includes a line of LED lights that resembles a spine, extending up the back of the chair between the two sides, which look like lungs. It’s almost as if the chair is mimicking the person who sits in it.
This chair by Anna Aagaard Jensen, presented by the Functional Art Gallery, has the air of being a throne yet hides deeper symbolism. Called “He’s my Queen,” it is part of Jensen’s body of work that explores “queer/femme identities within the design space.” It is crafted from polyurethane foam, styrofoam, steel, fiberglass, MAC Makeup and 22 karat gold leaf.
These chairs look like they might have some things in common with the balloon animals crafted for children, but the concept has been elevated to interpretive sculpture that s also functional. Part of the “Blowing” Series by Korean artist Seungjin Yang, these are indeed formed from balloons, which are then coated with eight layers of epoxy. The layers not only make the balloon constructions rigid and sturdy but also gives them an attractive gloss. Yang created the series in a variety of colors and seat designs, all presented by the Future Perfect.
Perhaps more of a bench than a chair, this beechwood seat is the Stardust Bench by Germany’s Pia Maria Raeder and shown by Galerie BSL. In fact, beechwood is the material of choice for Raeder, who spends hundreds of hours on each of her pieces. Like most of them, this one feels emotional has a very organic, biomorphic look. She creates them by painstakingly attaching wooden rods or pearls to a form that has been hand-carved from beechwood. The final construction is finished in a silver metallicized coating and uses waxed concrete for the seat.
“Golden Leaves” Chairs — like all the pieces by Joy de Rohan Chabot — are all inspired by nature. Her works are natural elements, transformed into artful pieces thanks to her vision and amazing creativity. These straightforward designs are a little less exuberant but no less appealing than her more intricate works. The two large gold leaves form the seat and the back of the chair, which is all supported on three pointed legs, giving it a more streamlined look. Her work is offered by Galerie Chastal Marechal.
An Organic Experiment
This Bubble Armchair design was created in a backward way…sort of. Instead of setting out to create a specific piece, French designer Léa Mestres follows the mantra of “Any shape, any material: and we’ll see afterwards.” Working from an incomplete sketch without knowing any specific details such as scale, color or material, her works evolve while being manufactured. The end result is sculptural, functional pieces that charm and delight. The deep hue and surface gleam of this chair, shown by Galerie Scene Ouverte, are exceptionally attractive.
Upholstered furniture does not have to be staid or ordinary as this chair demonstrates. Here it’s not just the choice of lively color, but also the distinctive shape of the arms that make a big difference. Homedit found this gem in the 209 Holiday House in New York City, where, Bennett Leifer Interiors melded eras and highlighted drapes and cushions that feature classical Renaissance art prints. With its midcentury legs, the versatile armchair has a lighter appearance and is a more modern counterpoint to the print.
It’s tough to believe that underneath this fantastic lounge lies a base of discarded toys and household items. The seat, created by Korean-born Jay Sae Jung Oh and presented by Salon 94 Design, actually won the award for Best Contemporary Piece at Design Miami/2019! Even more amazing is that the surface is raw leather string that she painstakingly hand wraps in a very intricate pattern. The forms are very unorthodox; however, they are still quite functional.
Two big names in design — Louis Vuitton and the Campagna Brothers of Brazil — came together in this wildly inventive chair called the Bulbo. Upholstered leather and fabric petals make up the entire chair, making it feel like you are cocooned inside a giant flower. The bright yellow upholstery adds to the floral feel of the piece. The chair is part of the Objets Nomades Collection that was launched in 2012 and now includes 45 forty-five limited-edition travel-inspired objects.
It’s hard to say what the most intriguing element in this chair is: The curve of the back or the translucent, layered seat. presented by Todd Merrill Studio, works by Marc Fish mesmerize because it’s hard to describe the look and the materials. His one-of-a-kind pieces are made with using micro stack-lamination in a process that combines resin with wood laminations. Light passing through the seat makes it look truly ethereal, and the wooden elements give it depth and dimension, along with an almost leaf-like appearance.
Low and relaxed, the Soriana Lounge set, created for Cassina in the 1970s, was presented by the Peter Blake Gallery. The set consists of two chairs and an ottoman designed by Afra and Tobia Scarpa, manufactured in Italy for atelier International Limited. The frame is made from brass-plated steel and it is upholstered in Dedar Milano ‘Splendido Splendente’ Velvet. Simultaneously elegant and casual, the set is very inviting with its foldover design and plush look.
It was called a sofa when it was created in 1971, but by today’s standards, it’s more like an oversized chair. The Fardos sofa by Brazilian designer Ricardo Fasanello consists of three big leather-covered rolls that are strapped into place with bands made of canvas. Plump and inviting, this design looks like it could have been created today. Leather means it durable and the classy look means it’s a fresh piece for today’s interiors. It is offered by the Side Gallery.
The old construction adage of “measure twice, cut once” does not apply to this organic-looking lounge chair. Called the Wonky, it is from Matthew Day Jackson, who explains that it “is made strictly without measuring using only basic tools.” His first pieces of this style were made when he took a cardboard prototype of a chair and covered it in carbon fiber and epoxy. Thus his collection was launched. He says that the fiberglass has bubbles in the fiberglass, the surface is full of imperfections and there’s no symmetry, noting that the best thing is ” how its forms express the hand and humor of the author where vulnerability is the magnum goal.”
Reimagined Vintage Form
This geometric metal seat was created in 2019mbut is actually based on a prototype from around 1905-1910. The Jam Seat by Lionel Jadot, was originally conceived by his grandfather of the famous Vanhamme furniture makers. Unlike the designs of that day, this one has a modern look and is made from just one material. The parts consist of four flat pieces of brass sheet that go together like a puzzle. The chair is offered by the Todd Merrill Studio.
A little like the old-fashioned custom of laying a doily over the top of a chair back, Ruben van Megen’s features a doily but in this case, it is actually a functional part of the chair. Rendered in cast bronze, the Antimacassar III is patinated black and combined with high-gloss polished bronze. Megen designs around themes that meld traditional Dutch design elements with modern design. The piece is named for Macassar, the men’s hair conditioner that became popular in the early 1900s. The doilies were used to protect furniture from the hair product. The chair is available from the Wexler Gallery.
Modern, with abstract coloring, this stunning glass chair is from Venice, Italy, which is renowned for its glassmaking. The piece is one of several created in a collaboration between WonderGlass, the Tokyo-based studio, Curiosity by Gwenael Nicolas and Milan-based designer, studiopluz. The glasswork in this chair masterful, and the melange of colors and how they transition throughout the work is also magnificent.
This is just a sampling of some one-of-a-kind chairs that can elevate the look of a room. You can find great examples in virtually any decor style to fit your preferences. From really artistic to wild and funky, there are lots of options for every personality.