Iconic modern chairs that play well with other

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are certain modern-style chairs that over the years have ascended into an iconic category. That means almost everyone recognizes one of these chairs in a home or furniture gallery even if you don’t know the name of the designer or the year the particular chair was put into production. The value of these chairs to the homeowner is that they work in a modern setting, a contemporary and even a transitional or traditional design scheme.

These are chairs that play well with other styles and periods of furniture. And that’s important because these are chairs you want to keep when you renovate, move into a new space, downsize -- whatever. They are investment pieces both in design, comfort and also in price. All of the chairs we’ll talk about start at over $2,000 and the price can be double depending upon the fabric or grade of leather the homeowner selects. But, know that they are durable as well as stylish. You see these chairs around the world in residential settings but also in offices and corporate boardrooms, hotels, airports and restaurants too.

Locally you can see and sit in these iconic modern chairs at Home Resource, 741 Central Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Owners Michael and Kathy Bush can point out the special design features of each of these chairs and quote prices.

Probably the most recognizable to the average person is the Barcelona Chair. This armless leather and steel chair was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929 for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition which was hosted by Barcelona, Spain. Made of leather and stainless steel, the chair has been in production since 1953 by Knoll. The chair comes with an ottoman and black is the most popular color.

The Womb chair, so called because it makes people feel so safe and comfortable, is made of molded fiberglass, foam and soft wool. It was designed in 1946 by Finish architect Eero Saarinen and is manufactured by Knoll. Red is the most popular color. This is a chair to curl up in, hide in and definitely read in. The Womb Chair famously appeared in a Norman Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post. Dad is slumped in his womb chair, hiding behind the Sunday paper in his pajamas while mom and kids primly file by on their way to church. Many people believe that the womb chair is the single most comfortable chair in the world. Red is the most popular color.

Married design couple Ray and Charles Eames released their curvaceous molded plywood and leather Lounge and Ottoman in 1956 after years of work on the design and fabrication technique. Today, you see this comfortable piece of furniture in family rooms, home offices, TV rooms and bedrooms as well as corporate and hospitality settings. This chair will never go out of style. Most popular colors are black, brown and beige. This chair appeals equally to men and women.

The Egg chair has a high back and sides. It’s enveloping and it swivels. It looks like a piece of modern art and the shape of the chair provides its name. The Egg was designed in 1958 by Danish designer Arne Jacobson for the lobby of the Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen. It didn’t take long for that chair to migrate from commercial projects into the living rooms of people all over the world. The top two colors are vivid red and bright yellow. You often see this chair in high-end restaurants and even in the terminals of some airports. For comfort and distinctive design, this chair remains in style decade after decade.

Check out these and other iconic modern chairs at Home Resource, 741 Central Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Knockoffs of these chair abound, but make the investment and get the real thing. These chairs are more than just furniture.


Marsha Fottler regularly contributes to local, regional and national publications with articles on residential, commercial and restaurant design as well as food.