Beautiful but Useless

I see it all the time: A client likes the look of a particular piece of furniture and is determined to have it, only to suffer from a serious case of buyer’s remorse because it is really just not that comfortable.

I think there are a lot of great designs out there that are indeed feats of engineering and design, but they are tricky to live with. Such pieces have obviously been designed for more show than go. The famed Panton chair by Verner Panton is a piece that just about every knock-off furniture shop in town carries. It is an elegant design and can be easily manufactured in plastic. It is clever in that legs can be tucked in the nook below the seat, but have you ever tried to sit through dinner in one of these chairs?

The Bertoia chair is another chair that I think is quite interesting and can look excellent in many spaces, but the wire mesh design would only leave me fidgety.

Another idea that I think looks great is the concept of an armless sofa. The light and airy style is clean, but the idea of not being able to lounge sideways by propping myself up on an arm means the design for me is a no-go. I did in fact design such a sofa as part of my original sofa collection, but in all honesty it was a dud when it came to sales.

An extreme case of high-design in my mind would be the Marc Newson Lockheed lounge chair (above), arguably one of the most seminal pieces of contemporary design. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had designed it myself, but it would be a difficult piece to incorporate into everyday living. If it’s still the must-have piece for you, you could snag the original – that is, if you can better the recent auction-selling price of a $1.75 million.

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