Design & Architecture

Sitting Pretty: Four Chairs that could be Art

Here are four classic chairs that defy the traditional rules of design.

Words by Dyuthi Prakash in Design & Architecture · Aug 2nd, 2016

The chair you’re currently seated on probably goes back a long way and went through a series of trials and tribulations before it became the revered resting object it is now. We sat down with our in-house interior designer, did a little research and picked four chairs that have made an impact throughout history and more recently.

1. Zigzag Chair Gerrit Rietveld

Image Credits: The Cassina Company

At first sight, the Zig-zag chair looks like a simple extrapolation of four clean lines. And then it draws you closer with curiosity and you’ll notice that it doesn’t have back legs for support. It took Gerrit Rietveld three years to design the perfect Zig-zag chair that could support itself with just a base. 

If we were to personify the chair, it could be compared to the spine of a person sitting upright. The simple chair is a wooden rendition of transparency. It shatters the traditional notions of furniture stability and goes against the rule book. Over the years, the Zig-zag chair has been replicated countless times with a variation in material, fabric, and structure. It is currently being produced by the Cassina company.

Inspiration behind it - Much like a historic myth, the inspiration behind the Zig-zag hair has been traced back to several different theories over the years. A popular one is that he was inspired by Heinz and Bodo Rasch’s “Sitzgeiststuhl” chair of 1927, which was fashioned according to the human posture.

About the Designer - Primarily an architect and furniture designer, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was one of the principal members of the Dutch artistic movement, De Stijl and is well-known for the Rietveld Schröder House. 

 Where you can find it in Dubai - The Cassina Showroom, Emaar Boulevard 

 Year of Production - 1955

2. The Fishnet Chair Sadi And Neptun Ozis

Image Credits: Walter Knoll

You’ve seen it everywhere, but you probably didn’t recognise it as one of the most avant-garde chairs of the last century. Designed in Turkey by Sadi Ozis, he wove fishnet between a bent tubular steel framework, due to lack of materials after World War II. Quite unaware of the impact it would make in the future, Sadi Ozis used artistic impetus and vital creativity and produced an organic, yet functional piece of furniture. Since then, there have been few designs that have take us by storm like this one did. 

Over the years, Sadi and his son, Neptun replaced the fishnet with an upholstered seat and back, giving it a contemporary finish. More than 50 years later, the Fishnet Chair has come a long way from its humble beginnings as the common man’s chair. Today, it is being produced by Walter Knoll and continues to be a timeless icon of design.

Inspiration behind it - Originally, the inspiration behind the iconic fishnet chair stemmed from yacht decks and the outdoors. Sadi Ozis imagined it to be an all-purpose chair that could be used even during harsh weather conditions in Turkey.

About the Designer - One of the foremost designers of Turkish modernity, Sadi Ozis was the first to develop modern furniture in Turkey. Due to lack of materials during the Second World War, he used materials like wire, mesh and water pipes for his work. Today, his son, Neptun Ozis carries his legacy forward.

Where you can find it in Dubai - Walter Knoll ME, Jebel Ali

Year of Production - 1959

3. Roll Chair Patricia Urquiola

Image Credits: Kettal

Known for designing some of the most poetic and practical furniture of the 21st century, Patricia Urquiola created the Roll Chair, an amalgamation of indoor and outdoor furniture. The protagonist is a pair of cushions neatly placed against an aluminium frame, fastened into place with colourful straps. The two roll cushions are reminiscent of a travel backpack with mats rolled up against each other.

Primarily meant for outdoor use, it makes for a great lazy chair to take a nap in. During the winter, the two back cushions can be done away with by removing the two pins keeping it in place.

Inspiration behind it - Part of the Kettel Mesh collection, the chair seeks inspiration from architecture facades that filter the surrounding environment without stopping light or air flow.

About the Designer - Originally a trained architect, Patricia Urquiola is a recipient of the AD Architecture Award 2008. She has worked on many notable projects like the minimalist Flo stool for Driade and a sculptural Antibodi chaise longue for Moroso.

Where you can find it in Dubai - Kettal, Bur Dubai

Year of Production - 2015

4. Ming's Heart Shi Chieh Lu

Image Credits: Poltrona Frau

The Ming’s heart chair treads the fine line between Chinese and Oriental spirituality. Its clean lines are significant of an honest, and almost wishful relationship between two fine materials, steel and leather. While the two materials are hardly used together, the chair merges them in perfect harmony, almost as if they were one. The armrests, seat and back are part of a continuous surface made of steel, and covered in leather. 

One could even say that the chair is reminiscent of a horse-saddle, hung lithely from a tubular steel frame. As curious as the name of the chair sounds, it invokes an ethereal feeling of romance as it floats in space awaiting its user.

Inspiration behind it - The Ming’s Heart Chair goes straight to the core of two worlds, two visions and two philosophies of living through its two materials. It was designed in reference to the cultural exchange between the East and the West.

About the Designer - Originally an architect from Taiwan, Shi-Chieh Lu was awarded the Poltrona Frau Design Award for the Ming Chair. Shi-Chieh Lu regards architecture and design as social events not simply as a creation of art. In other words, it is an entrance to the world as well as an endless discovery.

Where you can find it in Dubai - Poltrona Frau, Emaar Boulevard

Year of Production - 2016