Art + Design

The hot seats: what’s in a chair?

Living in a material world


By Buro247

The hot seats: what’s in a chair?

Mies Van der Rohe’s famous aphorism ‘Less is more’ is perhaps the most (over) used design maxim of all time but the legendary German-American architect, who designed quite a few iconic buildings in his day, had this to say about chairs: “A chair is a very difficult object to design. A skyscraper is almost easier.” Indeed a chair, with its necessity to fit the body’s nook and crannies, comes with a host of design and functional issues and what’s more because of its ubiquity, competition is stiff to say the least. Here are three chairs that have distinguished in terms of design and uniqueness.

Wiggle it just a little bit

At the Frank Gehry “I have an idea” exhibition which is currently at Tokyo’s 21_21 Design Sight museum, visitors got to try out the Pritzker Prize winning architect’s squidgy and squiggly Wiggle chair for Vitra. The common exclamation was how surprisingly comfortable it was especially for a material as unusual as corrugated cardboard. Gehry was one of the first designers to produce cardboard furniture, having created this chair in 1972 and it is composed of sixty layers of cardboard bonded and screwed together. Although the chair was hugely successful, Gehry was unhappy because the prices did not conform to his philosophy that furniture should be affordable to all. Nonetheless like the fantastical forms of his Bilbao Museum and Walt Disney Concert form, Gehry succeeded in bringing a new aesthetic dimension to an everyday material. 

Available at Space Furniture L3 The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak, t: 603 2166 2212,

Plank Space

The often avant-garde work of Brazilian designers, Huberto and Fernando Campana is always coupled with their passion for recycling and this is particularly evident in the Favela chair. Named for the shacks of the favelas or shanty towns built in Brazil, this intriguing armchair looks like it was arbitrarily cobbled together from whatever wood available. In actual fact, it takes a week of hand work by skilled artisans to nail the small strips of Brazilian pine wood together in a random arrangement that makes every chair different from the next.

Available at

Hitting the Bottle

Commissioned in the 1940s by the U.S. Navy for use on warships and submarines, the Emeco Navy chair’s utilitarian good looks have not faded with time, in fact they’re still regularly featured in hip hotels, restaurants and movies. They recently collaborated with another cultural icon of our time, Coca Cola, in the 111 Navy chair which gets its name from the 111 recycled plastic bottles that go into each chair. Available in zesty Juicy Fruit colours, despite its simple appearance, the 111 Navy Chair was the most difficult chair Emeco ever produced as the R&D process took 4 years from start to finish. Made in the USA to have the strength, durability and comfort of its aluminium predecessor, the production of this chair is expected to keep three million plastic Coke bottles out of landfills each year

Available at Space Furniture L3 The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak, t: 603 2166 2212,

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