‘It could be said that when we design a chair, we make a society and city in miniature’ British architect Peter Smithson wrote in 1986. So… the fact that we are seeing lots of comfortable, chubby, rounded forms at the moment could indicate that the world is watching Netflix and snacking. Or is there more to it than this?
My take on it is this. Right now, we’re seeking cocooning, comfortable armchairs that we can sink into, because we need to retreat from the world. During these times of uncertainty, we’re looking for comfort, but not at the expense of aesthetics. Armchairs take centre stage in our homes and they do more than serve our practical need for comfort. They are a key piece in our homes that reflect our taste and also our values.
The label ‘timeless’ is often something that we look for when investing in a special furniture item. We want something that we will still love in many years time, something that isn’t so trendy that we’ll get tired of it by tomorrow. But timeless furniture should not be confused with ‘watered down’ designs. In fact, if you look at examples of timeless furniture pieces that have stood the test of time, you’re looking at the game-changers and taste-makers of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Investing in a classic piece means that you’ll get years of use from your treasured furniture item, and possibly pass it onto family as an heirloom.
And if you’re not in the place where you’re ready to invest yet? The good news is that there are lots of excellent vintage sellers that also source and sell classic pieces from decades past at a more attainable price point – if new, designer pieces are beyond your budget, some of our favourite vintage sellers include Grandfather’s Axe, Nord Modern, and Curated Spaces.
BUT if you’re looking for THE one, or even just a bit of inspiration, here are 16 of my favourite armchairs out in the world right now!
1. Little Petra by &Tradition – Available from Cult
Okay, so this one might be on the DREAM list… but it’s just so good! The beautiful organic curves wrap around all sides of this chair and make it perfect to sit centre stage in a living area. It’s also a great size to suit a cosy bedroom. Low to the floor with its arms in an open embrace, it’s a product of the Scandinavian ‘Funkis’ style, a Nordic take on Art Deco. Designed by Danish architect Viggo Boesen in 1938 and reissued by &Tradition, it’s available in Australia from Cult.
Price: From $6600
2. Retro Lounge by HK Living – Available from House of Orange
Apart from the low lounging style that furniture in the seventies was known for, this Retro Lounge from HK Living is upholstered in our favourite throwback fabric, the boucle. This touchable textile has an irregular slub and bobble texture that gives this simple lounge form its irresistible appeal.
3. Nuvola by Gervasoni – Available from Anibou
This maxi-armchair makes no apologies for putting comfort first. Its plump shape has a deep seat that you sink into like a little nest. The upholstery has differentiated density polyurethane foam covered by a goose down and polyester fibre quilting, all of the ingredients to make it a little piece of heaven to experience.
4. Continental Easy Chair by Swedese – Available from Fred International
Something about how the elegant steel frame holds the bulging leather upholstery reminds me that the last three months of isolation combined with copious boxes of Barbeque Shapes wasn’t a good idea. This is a perfect balance of generous upholstery, with the lightness from the steel frame.
Price: From $5800
5.Bollo by Fogia – Available from Fred International
Unlike any armchair we have seen in recent times, when the Bollo came onto the scene I was quite excited! Plump pillowy elements on the seat, armrest and back are contrasted by the fine steel frame, for the perfect balance of lightness and comfort.
Price: From $3800
6.Living Dining/Sofa Chair – Available from Muji
Brilliant for flexible living spaces, when you need a chair that can double as a practical dining chair and also comfortable lounge chair. Arrange a few (armless) ones side by side and you have a sofa – genius. It’s low slung shape is reminiscent of other molded plywood furniture pieces from the Seventies; one most common armchairs of our time the Poäng from Ikea. It was inspired by Alvar Aalto and designed by a Japanese designer Noboru Nakamura.
7. Talking Chair by Grant Featherston – Available from Grazia & Co
As if it was designed today, the Talking Chair is perfect for social distancing. It’s called the ‘Talking Chair’ not because it enables great conversation with others, rather the chair actually talks to you, so even in isolation you won’t feel lonely. Reissued by Grazia & Co the technology has been updated with Sonos speakers concealed inside. Bonus points for being made in Melbourne!
Price: From $6890
8.Jean armchair – Available from Jardan
What’s not to love about this armchair? The Jean from Jardan has excellent structural support and plush, cosy cushioning, without sinking all the way down into low-slung territory.
9.Huggy by Sarah Ellison
This really is the ‘it’ armchair of the moment. Designed by Byron Bay-based stylist and product designer Sarah Ellison, the Huggy encapsulates just how we are feeling right now. No doubt that it’s right on trend, but it also has a refreshing, uniquely Australian aesthetic. The Huggy is available in rust velvet and a sumptuous faux-shearling. I want one, you want one, we all want one!
10. Hana Armchair by Moooi – Available from Space Furniture
This is EXACTLY what we need right now. An armchair that we can fully relax, lay back and hide away in. The cute form is like an uncurling flower, it’s a fresh take on a wingback style armchair.
11.Kelly Armchair – Available from Jardan
The Kelly has a beautifully classic armchair shape with its soft curved lines and yet completely fresh with the upholstered tapered leg. The form is well suited to a luxurious velvet upholstery. The fact that this sweet armchair is made in Australia is really just the icing on the cake.
12.Joy Armchair – Available from Jardan
Coveted by designers, Joy is a delightful swivel armchair that’s right on trend, but it also has a refreshing, uniquely Australian aesthetic. Its plump shape is well suited to the textured boucle fabric in their range and takes on a more luxurious look in velvet.
13. Bonnie Armchair by Ligne ROset – Available from DOMO
With only a few original examples of the Bonnie designed by Pierre Paulin seat from 1975 in existence, Ligne Roset have recently reissued it and we are very happy about it. It is not only unbelievably cool to look at, it’s also unbelievably comfortable; it hugs the body when you sink into it.
Price: From $5225
14. Plumy Armchair by Ligne Roset – Available from DOMO
One has not experienced true comfort before sitting on the Plumy. It is truly like sinking into a marshmallow. The layers of goose feather and down, combined with varying foam densities will turn you into a couch potato. Designed by Annie Hiéronimus in the 80s, it was re-released in 2016.
Price: From $1495
15. Cosy Swivel Chair from West Elm
The cosy swivel chair is exactly as it sounds. Set on a 360 degree swivel base, this is the perfect curl-up-with-a-good-book armchair (at a more attainable price point)!
16. Isabella Chair from West Elm
I love the striking rust colour of the Isabella Chair – combined with the wraparound style, it’s a super glam statement chair option!
Price: $1099 (on sale for $879 at time of publication)