Somewhere in the middle of the sixth pavilion of the massive Salone del Mobile fairgrounds, in Milan, read a sign: “The master Bruno Munari claimed that in the world, ‘there are more chairs than asses.'”
Munari, a mid-century Italian industrial designer and futurist, had complicated feelings about chairs. (For more on this topic, check out his book and thesis on armchairs, Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair). Still, Munari might be right about chairs versus asses. After a week in Milan for the furniture fair, I’ll be seeing chairs in my sleep.
In the field of industrial design, chairs occupy unique territory. They are architectural, but need to be made in quantity. They should appeal to the human eye and to the human back and derriere. And perhaps more than any other category of furniture, chairs have the potential to become iconic. Only time will tell if any of this year’s launches will become the famous chair of tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a list of the swankiest, sleekest, and wackiest chairs I saw last week.