vladimir kagan furniture design and the lounge search

a torrential down pour moved through florida early this morning.  i have an outdoor lounge chair search on, and vladimir kagan’s set strikes me on this soggy day as almost perfect.  no damp cloth seats or moldy wood to deal with when our sun returns.   

vladimir kagan chairs and table @ dosbananos.com

vladimir kagan chairs and table @ dosbananos.com

 but on a dry day, this one would be wonderful

multi position aluminum frame lounge chair @ vladimirkagan.com

multi position aluminum frame lounge chair @ vladimirkagan.com

kagan’s simple lines and sweeping curves are most elegant

contour high backed lounge chair, walnut frame @ vladimirkagan.com

contour high backed lounge chair, walnut frame @ vladimirkagan.com

kagan has some cubist designs i am not so crazy about, but his use of plexiglass and contours combined is interesting

erica chaise @ vladimirkagan.com

erica chaise @ vladimirkagan.com

 

 here we go, for a super lazy florida day!

 

outdoor chaise, 1960s @ architonic.com

outdoor chaise, tubular steel, 1960s @ architonic.com

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adjustable lounge chair by william morris the socialist dreamer

still searching for a lounge chair for an outdoor seating area.  what angle should the backrest be?  it could be adjustable.  william morris (1834-1896) seems to have been the original creator of an adjustable chair.  at least his name has been attached to the much copied design.  

morris chair, desert craftsman, phoenix, arizona

morris chair, desert craftsman, phoenix, arizona

 

morris chair, copy, from 1866 drawing

morris chair, copy, from 1866 drawing

Morris chair by L. & J. G. Stickley

Morris chair by L. & J. G. Stickley

 

morris was an english designer who like many popular designers made a lasting impact with not just their art but their break away thinking about the times in which they lived.  morris was an architect, artist, textile designer, poet, and an outspoken proponent of socialism.  he reacted to the industrial revolution’s mechanized workplaces and poor living conditions for so many workers by dreaming of another happier world.  he did not lounge all the time, though.  he worked and thought about work.

“It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do; and which should he done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome nor over-anxious.”  william morris*

think about that for a minute and the types and work that men should do becomes a very short list. i think he had the dreamy world of artists in mind.  

morris was also a skeptic when it came to leadership.

“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; Art has remembered the people, because they created.”  william morris* 

“No man is good enough to be another’s master” william morris*

but morris was a leader himself, followed because his ideas and art were admired.  in a sense, he was a king or master of the english arts and crafts movement, which hoped society could get back to good craftsmanship and smaller personalized production in which all the workers could feel a pride and ownership.  i don’t think he foresaw that his utopian socialist world would require the fiercest kind or kingship and mastery to enact.  socialists are not pragmatic observers of humanity.  there just always are leaders and followers, ceos and janitors, generals and foot soldiers.  when anything is destroyed the leaders always get blamed whether it is their fault or not….. anyway, back to the lounge chair search.

here is another variation, sitzmaschine, designed for an austrian sanatorium. 

Sitzmaschine Chair with Adjustable Back (model 670). c. 1905., josef hoffman, produced by kohn

Sitzmaschine Chair with Adjustable Back (model 670). c. 1905., josef hoffman, produced by kohn

i find the design rather scary.  the name does not help.  it brings to mind enforced sitting.  associated with a long sickly stay in a sanatorium, the chair is not attractive.  but on the other hand, if you have to sit for a long time for any reason, it is wonderful to be able to adjust the angle of the backrest.  

* quotes copied from thinkexist.com

in search of the perfect lounge chair – betty joel and art deco

do you have $37,500.00 handy?  if so, you may be interested in this chaise lounge chair attributed to betty joel.  it is available at newel, nyc.   i like betty joel’s style.  and she was a brit, born and raised in hong kong, like me.  so she gets extra points. 

Betty Joel)

English Art Deco maple recamier of sleigh form upholstered in white cotton with fringed edge (attr: Betty Joel), $37.000 at newel

joel was influenced by the chinese art she was surrounded by in hong kong, and though she lived through the first world war, she was not so shocked and disillusioned by war as were the europeans. her contemporary modernist designers at bauhaus were philosophically warped and became overly idealist.  millinary works, uk describes joel, on the other hand, as “a confident realist, not concerning herself with design theory, political ideology or an art movement.”   joel’s work just has a flair and fun about it that makes me smile.   

Betty Joel 1894 – 1985, british art deco designer

Betty Joel 1894 – 1985, british art deco designer

art deco chaise-longue, by betty joel, england 1930

art deco chaise-longue, by betty joel, england 1930

hong kong, which was a british crown colony, is a great place to grow up as a brit.  it builds you up and brings you down at the same time.  you are called, to your face, a “gwai lo”, (well, you can’t spell it in english) but it means ‘white devil.’  you are on the one hand not welcome, a foreigner, part of an overlord race that is unjustified, that should not be there  (hong kong was sort of stolen from the chinese).  but on the other hand you are also admired and respected.  hong kong provided a well governed haven for chinese escapees from mao’s communism (in the 1960s and 70s, when i was there). it was also an incredible opportunity for any hard working person to reap the benefits of living at a cultural crossroad and a great hub of world commerce. people were desperate, thankful and skeptical all at the same time.  

there is something about being born and raised in a multicultural place, and especially a non-country sort of place like hong kong, that causes you not to take any national culture or human ideology very seriously.  the best way to live is to realize that every national culture has its strengths and its stupidities.

when joel and her naval husband moved to england after the war, they wanted unique furniture for their modern home.  friends asked them for duplicates and this led to their successful art deco business.  you can almost see tasseled ladies leaping up from these chaise lounges to dance the charleston.

lounge chair design, the need to unwind, furniture classics up to thonet

 

upholstered chaise lounge thonet brothers 1900

upholstered chaise lounge thonet brothers 1900

can you picture lying around in this lounge chair in 1900?  this is the edwardian era in england of ‘upstairs downstairs’ and ‘mary poppins.’  who had the time to lounge then?  only the few, only the rich.  but life is stressful for all walks of life and the chaise lounge offers a welcome attitude-in-waiting to unwind.  

i was glad to find these pics on designboom.com.  they have several pages of the history of the day bed.  nice idea, history had, to bed in the day.  i concur (today, at least).  to go all day and stop only at night does not always cut it.  not that i do not believe in hard work, and live to work, but some moments of calm, of thought, of rest, of sanctuary, are needed to pause in the day or to unwind in the evening. having your feet up at such moments helps.    

here are some of thonet’s chaise lounge predecessors and others of their designs of that era.  relax and imagine.  

medieval drawing of a day-bed, early 13th century @ designboom.com

medieval drawing of a day-bed, early 13th century

 

resting bed (in french lit a repose), england, later 16th century

resting bed (in french 'lit a repose'), england, later 16th century

 

chair a duchesse , france 1765

chair 'a duchesse' , france 1765

 

kangaroo day bed virginia 1830s

kangaroo day bed, virginia 1830s

 

napoleon III steel camp daybed circa 1850

napoleon III steel camp daybed circa 1850

 

rocking reclining chaise-longue, thonet brothers, austria 1883

rocking reclining chaise-longue, thonet brothers, austria 1883

 

thonet chaise-lounge, austria, ca. 1890

thonet chaise-lounge, austria, ca. 1890

 

thonet chaise lounge ca. 1980

thonet chaise lounge ca. 1980

 

garden recliner, thonet brothers, ca. 1900

garden recliner, thonet brothers, ca. 1900

 maybe they were gazing at a garden like this…. whilst pondering future artistic possibilities of the chaise lounge pose.

english garden landscape design

furniture design and the lounge chair search: organic form

 

organic form french lounge chair @ bond and bowery

organic form french lounge chair @ bond and bowery

now this is a smooth looking chair, and i find the shape inviting.  it has new upholstery and the wide arm rests, the contrast with the clean fabric and the wood are wonderful.  it swivels and rocks.  made “in the spirit of richard neutra,” the ad says, of a 1950s design.  

if i did not have cats, it would look as perfect as it does in this picture in a few years, in my house. maybe i shall deal with the cats and dash up to center 44 in ny, with $8,500, to get this chair!  

center 44 is advertising on bond and bowery, and their website was a valuable find in my lounge chair design search.  the whole site is a pleasing exploration of art in furnishings and furniture, antique, vintage and modern, with succinct but informative descriptions of each piece.  

thanks to material girls blog for their blog about the bond and bowery website.  

the frenchman richard neutra designed the california landmark, the lovell heath house, by the way, also a classic in architectural design.   

the lovell health house, california, designed by

the lovell health house, 1929, california, designed by richard neutra who inspired the lounge chair above

eames was also an architect first, and said that furniture design was architecture, and was inspired himself in part by richard neutra.   we are never an island.

the best lounge chair design: the la-z-boy??

 

a la-z-boy recliner

a la-z-boy recliner

 

 

second to tv’s, la-z-boy recliners are the fastest selling items at your local thrift store.  for some this may be the perfect lounge chair.  their factory pumps out 6000 a day, they say.  maybe la-z-boy’s stocks will never go down.  the makers have an impressive history of clever invention, risk taking, hard work. you can read about it at lazboy incorporated company history.  and shop for a wide variety of reclining chair styles at la-z-boy.com.

we have one at my house, and it has been well used.  but for my personal hunt for a lounge chair, it is out of the running right away.  it is an anti-social chair.  it says “leave me alone with my tv.”  now this may be harsh, but tell me this is not what most people in your house sit in it for?  

when i lounge, i prefer not to do nothing or to zone out.  i like to talk with a friend, read a book, do some needlework, or diddle on my laptop (check my mail, scan the news, do a bit of twittering and blogging, read interior design articles and blogs), have a drink or eat a bit.  these activities are not conducive to the reclined position.  i want my feet up, sometimes, to rest my head, sometimes, but to maintain an attitude of engagement with life and the people around me.  when i want to check out and sleep i go to bed. 

compromise: at our house a few years ago we bought a big leather couch, each half of which reclines, with no arm rest (divider contraption) in the middle.  it is one big cosy lounge couch for two, or for two with a grandchild in between.  it still sort of says, “leave us alone we are watching tv,” but it is more social.  and jungle book or mary poppins make for very happy conversation with a small person.

 

reclining sofa -- for social tv watching

reclining sofa -- for social tv watching

furniture design – in search of the perfect lounge chair – 2/2 meet the eames version

 

eames herman miller classic lounge chair

eames herman miller classic lounge chair - sold on ebay for $3,251.00

i love the bent rose wood shell, and leather (or vinyl) are my favorite upholstery choices.  in search of a great lounge chair for me, i like an ottoman chair combination.  this is a great chair, but…

the leather is dark (black, usually), and it has a masculine look.  i want a chair that will hold up outdoors, under a porch, but still out in the humidity, in florida. herman miller does make an aluminum lounge chair with ottoman, which they expect to be used outdoors.

 

Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Herman Miller® - Eames® Aluminum Group Lounge Chair and Ottoman

again, it has a decidedly masculine look.  not as soft.  this one sells for $1,928.00, new. (click on the picture to link).

 

here is part 2 of the introduction of the 1956 eames lounge chair.  note that a man is sitting in it, in the advert, and the woman is perched prettily on the footstool….. nice picture, but i want to lounge some too! (and i don’t think i perch so prettily…and not much perching at all, now that i think about it.)

Eames Lounge Chair debut in 1956 on NBC [2/2]