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Trendspotting: The rumpled look for chairs

April 20, 2010 |  7:48 am

After the dismal couple of years they've had, it's no wonder the folks in the furniture industry might not want to get out of bed. Could that be why they gave us so much quilted upholstery for sofas and headboards, among other things?

Now, if inklings at the Milan furniture fair are any indication, we're getting sheets to go with the quilts. It's not a complaint, but loose (sometimes almost free-form) upholstery appeared on several new chairs at the show and at related collection premieres.

Poliform extended its furniture offerings with Wallace, above, a cloud cushion propped on angular metal legs. (As my colleague David A. Keeps noted, it was one of several new pieces to channel the spirit of the Charles and Ray Eames.)

Milan_Colombo The Lips swiveling chair by designer Carlo Colombo for manufacturer Artflex was similar in spirit if not in shape. The seat cover is removable and washable, echoing another trend.

Though photos may convey the look of an unmade bed, in person the loose upholstery simply comes off as more casual than rumpled. One showroom representative used the metaphor of an untucked shirt. I may not purchase the chair for myself, but I might buy that comparison.

When I interviewed Konstantin Grcic, the designer said his new chair for British manufacturer Established & Sons was rooted in production, not aesthetics. He said he wanted to make a statement about the way most armchairs are manufactured: Make a wood frame, glue on foam, staple fabric on top. He wanted to create a chair that provoked thought "not just about the outside, which we do see, but also the inside."

His rumpled Crash chair consists of an upholstered foam shell that slips over a tubular steel frame. Besides being a theoretical exercise, the chair delivers the added benefit of independent production. Frame and cover can be manufactured and shipped independently, leading to a host of benefits for prospective buyers, including easier recycling of materials at the end of the chair's life. You can see the results here.

-- Craig Nakano

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Photos, from top: Poliform. Credit: Franco Forci / For The Times.