There are certain designs that are revolutionary when they’re dreamt up, but stand the test of time. They blaze a trail and influence the next generation of designers. These are design icons.
In this first post of our new series, the Harrods Interior Design team pick their favourite pieces of furniture and explain why they believe they’re worthy of icon status.
Charles and Ray Eames: The Eames Elephant
Chosen by Charlotte Liu, interior planner
Perhaps not what comes to mind when you think of an Eames chair, the Eames Elephant is a playful design and marks an important moment in the history of mass-produced furniture. Originally made from plywood, this 42cm-tall stackable stool revealed the possibilities of this affordable material. The piece embodied Charles and Ray Eames’ ethos that good design should be available to all.
Franco Albini: Libreria Veliero
Chosen by Claudio Ruvolo, interior architect
Designed with a deep understanding of structural integrity and the balancing of forces and weights, Franco Albini’s Libreria Veliero is a playful take on the humble bookcase. By riffing on the fundamentals of structural engineering and combining this with artistic flair, the mid-century Italian designer created a masterclass in breaking the rules. Take note.
Bethan Gray: Nizwa four-door cabinet
Chosen by Yasmin Bayat, interior procurement manager
Bethan Gray’s Nizwa cabinet features a considered layering of contrasting elements. The combination of traditional marquetry – which evokes the rounded battlements of the ancient Nizwa Fort in Oman – with modern brass finishes and bold ombré colourways exhibits a weaving of cultural influences, modern form and traditional crafts. This creates an old-meets-new piece that’s both sentimental and on-trend.
Oscar Niemeyer: Rio chaise longue
Chosen by Sofia Quintas, assistant interior designer
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer believed designing meant searching for “beautiful, expressive, different and surprising solutions”. Though arguably more well-known for his architecture, his product designs – such as the Rio chaise lounge – also showcase his ethos. With curves mimicking the female form and the hills of Rio de Janeiro, the seat is not only expressive, but also incredibly comfortable.
Vincenzo De Cotiis: Baroquisme collection
Chosen by Rasha Kudsi, interior designer
With fluid, organic pieces that bridge the gap between unfinished and considered, De Cotiis’s Baroquisme collection reveals the glory of the unrefined. The designs allow luxurious materials to speak for themselves through deliberate pairings and the use of organic shapes. An ode to Italian Baroque – an art movement of the late 16th century, known for its decorative and experimental style – these statement pieces show the limitless nature of design.
Poltrona Frau: Vanity Fair armchair
Chosen by Andrea Pavarini, senior interior designer
Design that breaks the mould and reveals a new standard: a lofty ambition for any designer. But Poltrona Frau’s Vanity Fair armchair, created in 1930, met just such a high standard. It’s considered the archetype of modern armchairs, and its genius lies in its simplicity and focus on purpose (which is comfort, of course). With its rounded shape and rows of leather-covered nails, this piece illustrates the age-old belief that great design is the perfect combination of function and aesthetics.