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An Utterly Subjective Guide To The Best Chairs At Milan Design Week

As a great furniture designer once said, the world has "more chairs than asses." Yup.

  • <p>This year Konstantin Grcic (whose exhibit at the Vitra Design Museum is covered here) had designs on display for Vitra, Mattiazi, and Magis, to name a few. Here, however, is his first creation for <a href="http://www.artek.fi/" target="_blank">Artek</a>: the Rival multifunctional task chair. The legs are designed to be milled from a single piece of birch.</p>
  • <p>Belgian design studio <a href="http://www.formz.be/index.html" target="_blank">Formz</a> showed off a geometric chair with alternating mirrored and matte planes.</p>
  • <p>Italian design group <a href="http://www.kubedesign.it/it/default.html" target="_blank">Kubedesign</a>'s preferred material is cardboard, because it can be recycled and biodegrade. Their new chair, here, echoes the vibe of Frank Gehry's famous <a href="http://www.vitra.com/en-us/product/wiggle-side-chair" target="_blank">Wiggle chair</a> for Vitra.</p>
  • <p>It's hard to imagine that the bean bag chair could ever be chic, but Spanish designers <a href="http://pensandoenblanco.com/" target="_blank">Pensando en Blanco</a> have done it, with their 03AM chair. The name is a nod to the bakers who would take a break after churning out the first pastries at 3:00 in the morning.</p>
  • <p><a href="http://www.bernotat.eu/" target="_blank">Anke Bernotat</a> (whose quirky <a href="http://www.fastcodesign.com/3021067/wanted/oh-my-god-even-the-chairs-are-wearing-hoodies-now" target="_self">chair hoodies</a> are covered here) created the Cellular Loop chair during a research project on biomimicry in natural materials. The cantilever chair's construction is similar to that of banana leaf stems and bones.</p>
  • <p>German designer <a href="http://meikeharde.com/" target="_blank">Meike Harde</a>'s work focuses on playful uses of upholstery. Her new armchair is ultra-lightweight, thanks to the foam pieces that wrap around the frame and it give it shape.</p>
  • <p>The CC: Carpet-Chair, by <a href="http://www.mayamann.com/" target="_blank">Maya Mann</a>, is aptly named: the modular piece of fabric can flatten out into a rug, or fold up into a chair.</p>
  • <p>Dutch architecture firm <a href="http://www.unstudio.com/en" target="_blank">UNstudio</a>'s curvy Gemini chair for Artifort is designed to accommodate several postures: sit up, or relax by draping a leg over the side.</p>
  • <p><a href="http://www.fritzhansen.com/en/fritz-hansen" target="_blank">Republic of Fritz Hansen</a> has reintroduced Arne Jacobsen's Drop chair from 1958, originally created for the Radisson Scandinavian Airlines System Hotel in Copenhagen.</p>
  • <p>Hella Jongerius created the East River lounge chair specifically for the United Nations North Delegate's Lounge in New York.</p>
  • <p>She's now introduced the lightweight design to Vitra's line in a range of new colors.</p>
  • <p>Dutch designer Richard Hutton's Layers Cloud Chair.</p>
  • <p>To create the spherical design, he manually assembled 545 layers of pre-cut Kvadrat fabric.</p>
  • <p>This one might be cheating: Federico Peri's lounger is also a side table and shelving rack, making it great fodder for the most mod dorm room ever.</p>
  • <p><a href="http://www.blastation.com/" target="_blank">Bla Station</a>'s crumpled paper shell of a chair was created in an experiment to see if standard veneer could take on a 3-D form. It did, and now the Swedish design studio has released it as the Dent chair.</p>
  • <p>Italian design studio <a href="http://www.habito-gr.it/" target="_blank">Habito</a>'s maple Fiorita chair. (<em>Game of Thrones</em> fans, this one's for you.)</p>
  • <p>And last, who can resist a wooden robot chair, that snaps back into a flat sheet of wood when sitting time is over? Designed by newbie Guglielmo Quaranta.</p>
  • 01 /17

    This year Konstantin Grcic (whose exhibit at the Vitra Design Museum is covered here) had designs on display for Vitra, Mattiazi, and Magis, to name a few. Here, however, is his first creation for Artek: the Rival multifunctional task chair. The legs are designed to be milled from a single piece of birch.

  • 02 /17

    Belgian design studio Formz showed off a geometric chair with alternating mirrored and matte planes.

  • 03 /17

    Italian design group Kubedesign's preferred material is cardboard, because it can be recycled and biodegrade. Their new chair, here, echoes the vibe of Frank Gehry's famous Wiggle chair for Vitra.

  • 04 /17

    It's hard to imagine that the bean bag chair could ever be chic, but Spanish designers Pensando en Blanco have done it, with their 03AM chair. The name is a nod to the bakers who would take a break after churning out the first pastries at 3:00 in the morning.

  • 05 /17

    Anke Bernotat (whose quirky chair hoodies are covered here) created the Cellular Loop chair during a research project on biomimicry in natural materials. The cantilever chair's construction is similar to that of banana leaf stems and bones.

  • 06 /17

    German designer Meike Harde's work focuses on playful uses of upholstery. Her new armchair is ultra-lightweight, thanks to the foam pieces that wrap around the frame and it give it shape.

  • 07 /17

    The CC: Carpet-Chair, by Maya Mann, is aptly named: the modular piece of fabric can flatten out into a rug, or fold up into a chair.

  • 08 /17

    Dutch architecture firm UNstudio's curvy Gemini chair for Artifort is designed to accommodate several postures: sit up, or relax by draping a leg over the side.

  • 09 /17

    Republic of Fritz Hansen has reintroduced Arne Jacobsen's Drop chair from 1958, originally created for the Radisson Scandinavian Airlines System Hotel in Copenhagen.

  • 10 /17

    Hella Jongerius created the East River lounge chair specifically for the United Nations North Delegate's Lounge in New York.

  • 11 /17

    She's now introduced the lightweight design to Vitra's line in a range of new colors.

  • 12 /17

    Dutch designer Richard Hutton's Layers Cloud Chair.

  • 13 /17

    To create the spherical design, he manually assembled 545 layers of pre-cut Kvadrat fabric.

  • 14 /17

    This one might be cheating: Federico Peri's lounger is also a side table and shelving rack, making it great fodder for the most mod dorm room ever.

  • 15 /17

    Bla Station's crumpled paper shell of a chair was created in an experiment to see if standard veneer could take on a 3-D form. It did, and now the Swedish design studio has released it as the Dent chair.

  • 16 /17

    Italian design studio Habito's maple Fiorita chair. (Game of Thrones fans, this one's for you.)

  • 17 /17

    And last, who can resist a wooden robot chair, that snaps back into a flat sheet of wood when sitting time is over? Designed by newbie Guglielmo Quaranta.

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.

Hella Jongerius's UN East River chair for Vitra

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.

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