Can you name these 10 architects who double as furniture designers?

From the Barcelona to the Wiggle, many an iconic chair was designed by an architect.

  • April 4, 2018

  • Written by Patrick Kasingsing

  • Introduction by Denny Mata

  • Illustrated by Patricia Rico

It’s no wonder that people who are artistically inclined tend to excel in more art or design fields than one. Take the architects whose talents transcend other disciplines in art, science, and engineering. There are some who get involved in fine arts and culinary arts, while others don’t stray too far from their profession to practice urban planning and interior design.

Can you guess these architects who do double duty as furniture designers?

architects furniture designers
(L-R)Barcelona chair, 1929; Wiggle chair, 1972

Barcelona chair, 1929

A timeless classic that has withstood the test of time and evolving tastes, this chrome, steel and leather masterpiece debuted at the German Pavilion in 1929 for the World Exposition in Barcelona, thus its name. Another no-brainer for architecture buffs. Quotes: “God is in the details,” and “I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.”

Wiggle chair, 1972

It was a part of a series of pieces designed for furniture company Vitra. The chair proved to be popular, but the architect was unhappy with the designer price tag it came with, running counter to his intention of creating affordable furniture. This infamous ‘starchitect’ is known for his organic and abstracted forms, penning critical architectural hits and misses in countries like Spain, Germany, France and the US. Quote: “I don’t know how to overcome this perception that I’m extravagant.”

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architects furniture designers
(L-R) Roattino floor lamp, 1930s; Molded Plastic Rocker chair, 1948

Roattino floor lamp, 1930s

Recognizable for its slender form, S-shaped steel tubing and wide rim shade cone, the Roattino is one of many Modernist masterpieces by this architect who first found fame with the E-1027 house, with then partner Jean Badovici. The great Le Corbusier so admired the house that he executed wall murals for it at the behest of Badovici, only to meet with furious disapproval of our architect, who felt it ruined the integrity of her work. Quote: “To create, one must first question everything.”

Molded Plastic Rocker chair, 1948

This iconic rocking chair is considered a revolution in furniture production. Made from fiberglass-reinforced molded plastic and birch or maplewood rockers, the Molded Plastic Rocker was faster and easier to produce, and stood in colorful contrast with Herman Miller’s wooden offerings. The product was so popular it was given out as a company gift to pregnant Herman Miller employees and reissued by the brand 30 years later. Quote: “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

architects furniture designers
(L-R) Torq chair, 2010; Mesa table, 2007

Torq chair, 2010

The jagged geometries and sharp angles make this chair unmistakably the work of our next architect-designer, known for his bold and angular structures that, while attention-catching, are often met with mixed reactions. Quote: “When you’re a kid with artistic yearnings brought up in the Bronx, you don’t get fed up too easily.”

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Mesa table, 2007

Made of a polyeurethane base with a fiberglass top and a metallic paint finish, the Mesa table evolved from an art installation in the 2005 Miami Design Fair. The architect compared the table’s design to that of water lily pads floating on a pond. The Pritzker laureate is responsible for noted landmarks in China, Europe and the Middle East, some of them controversial. Quote: “What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina?”

 

architects furniture designers
(L-R) Egg chair, 1958; SILYA chair, 2013

Egg chair, 1958

Together with the Swan and the Drop chair, this shapely number was designed to grace the Radisson SAS Hotel in Copenhagen (also designed by our architect) and is among this Danish architect’s recognizable work. Quote: “In addressing a task, one almost always has several possible options, sometimes only a few, and they may all be practical and functional. But they lack the aesthetic aspect that raises it to architecture.”

SILYA chair, 2013

Made of woven paper twine, fabric and metal, this striking red and black chair resembles a stylized eye. It serves as both chair and storage and in numbers, could form larger benches to seat more people. Quote: “Well, you know I have no ego.”

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architects furniture designers
(L-R)Guéridon table, 1949; Grasshopper lounge chair, 1946

Guéridon table, 1949

Designed for use in the University of Paris, the Guéridon table’s simplicity, honesty in form and material has given it timeless appeal. The self-taught French architect and designer responsible for this piece is credited for helping bring manufacturing techniques to architecture, and is famous for his pre-fabricated houses. Quote: “Never design anything that cannot be made.”

Grasshopper lounge chair, 1946

He is considered one of the architecture greats, along with his father. His curves are sublime, his forms graceful and daring yet perfectly rational. Quote: “What you newspaper and magazine writers, who work in rabbit time, don’t understand is that the practice of architecture has to be measured in elephant time.” 

Original article first appeared in BluPrint Special Issue 2 2014. Edits were made for BluPrint online.

Answers: Frank Gehry for the Wiggle chair, Charles and Ray Eames for the Molded Plastic Rocker chair, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe for the Barcelona chair, Eileen Gray for the Roattino lamp, Zaha Hadid for the Mesa table, Daniel Libeskind for the Torq chair, Eero Saarinen for the Grasshopper lounge chair, Ed Calma for the SILYA chair, Ame Jacobsen for the Egg chair and Jean Prouvé for the Guéridon table