The Most Iconic Chaises Longues

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The concept of the chaises longues has a long history. The relaxation furniture can already be found among the Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians. For the Ancient Greeks, the chaise longue was a divine chair. They portrayed their gods and goddesses on the chaise longue.

Well-known designers have made their version of the ultimate single-person couch. Some chaises longues are designed as unique pieces of furniture, others as part of a collection of furniture.

Table of Contents

La Chaise

Vitra La Chaise lounge chair Charles & Ray Eames
Eames La Chaise Longue Chair

Designer: Charles & Ray Eames | Manufacturer: Vitra

The ‘Floating Figure’ sculpture by the American artist Gaston Lachaise was the source of inspiration for the chaise longue La Chaise in 1948. Charles and Ray Eames claim that Lachaise’s bronze floating lady would fit perfectly in the chair. The organic design is more art than it is a chair, it is icon of modern furniture design.

The eyecatcher, named after inspirator Lachaise, was one of the two entries from the Eames couple for a design competition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Although they specifically designed La Chaise for the ‘International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design’, the production of the piece of art proved to be too expensive. Vitra did not start producing the chair until 1966.

The shell of La Chaise consists of two hand-molded parts that are glued together. Like the famous DSR chair the shell is made from fiberglass and the base is chromed. The legs of the La Chaise are made of oak. The DSR chair was the other entry for the competition from Eames, it earned the couple a second prize and this chair was immediately taken into production.

LC4

LC4 Chaise Lounge
LC4 Chaise Lounge

Designer: Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand | Manufacturer: Cassina

The LC4 is the chaise longue from the LC series of Le Corbusier, which was first presented at the Paris art exhibition ‘Salon d’Automne’ in 1928. Like the Corbusier sofa LC2 and the armchair LC3, the LC4 is a combination of leather with a chromed steel tubular frame.

The trio Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand have created an ingenious design. The chaise longue consists of two separate parts, the upper part can be placed in several positions. The upper lying part consists of different materials. There are elastics bands between the chrome tubular frame so the leather lying section does not feel harsh, but does not sag too much either. The neck roll is held in place by leather belts which can also be removed.

People’s comfort is leading in all the designs of the architect Le Corbusier. This philosophy also applies for the LC4. The sizes, curves and position of the chaise longue are perfectly matched to the human body, so the person can optimally relax and rest. This, together with the industrial look, has given the chair the nickname ‘relaxation machine’.

The chair is nowadays produced in Italy by manufacturer Cassina.

Soft Pad Chaise ES 106

Soft Pad Chaise ES 106
Photo by vitra.com

Designer: Charles & Ray Eames | Manufacturer: Vitra & Herman Miller

The Soft Pad Chaise is the second chaise longue of the Eames couple in this list and in many ways the opposite of the La Chaise. The design is sleek, minimalist and industrial which gives the chair the appearance of a very narrow bed.

The story behind the chair is maybe even more special than the design of the chair. The idea for the design started on a film set where Charles and Ray Eames saw their friend and renowned Hollywood director Billy Wilder taking short naps, during the break between shoots, on shelves and other stuff that was laying around on the set. With his desire to have a piece of furniture for his naps in his office, the Eames couple set to work.

The Soft Pad Chaise that resulted has the same built-in wake-up call as the shelfs in his studio; Billy Wilder fell comfortably asleep with his arms crossed on his chest, waking up automatically as his arms slid off his chest. The narrow size of the chaise longue had the additional advantage that it easily fitted into the director’s office.

The Soft Pad Chair is nowadays produced by Vitra, the first versions by Herman Miller. The chair consists of six thick cushions that are attached to each other with zippers. Two extra loose pillows are for extra comfort for the head and knees. The frame is made of aluminium.

The design and functionality of this special lounger once again show that the Eames couple formed a brilliant designer duo. The Eames have left a clear imprint on furniture designs. Their designs are also on the lists “The Most Iconic Design Lounge Chairs” and “The Most Iconic Design Office Chairs”.

Cleopatra

Photo by artifort.com

Designer: Geoffrey D. Harcourt | Manufacturer: Artifort

Englishman Geoffrey D. Harcourt made his best-known designs while he worked for the Dutch company Artifort. At Artifort he mainly designed armchairs for office and reception areas, such as the F154.

Many of his designs also fit very well in a modern living room. This certainly also applies to the chaise longue that Harcourt designed in 1970. The Cleopatra from Artifort is the chaise longue in this list that most resembles a sofa. It stands out for its strong, simple horizontal organic form. This sofa can bought in dozens of colors from calm black to bright orange or yellow, so it fits into any corporate style and becomes even more an eye catcher.

Artifort is a combination of Art and Comfort, two characteristics that certainly apply to the Cleopatra sofa. In addition, the sofa is very practical. The wheels ensure that the chaise longue is easy to move, so cleaning can also be done under the sofa. The cover of the sofa is washable.

Other well-known armchairs from Artifort are the Mushroom and the Ribbon by Pierre Paulin, the Swan by Gerrit Rietveld and the Nina by Rene Holten.

Bird Chaise

Photo by tomdixon.net

Designer: Tom Dixon | Manufacturer: Tom Dixon (Cappellini)

The Bird Chaise by Tom Dixon is a rocking chair with the looks of a sculpture. The chair has a beautiful wavy silhouette and a modern, somewhat funny shape. Dixon designed the Bird Chaise in 1990. In his south London Metal shop, he made his first model of galvanized steel.

At that time, Tom Dixon worked with manufacturers as Cappellini, Driade and Inflate, and SCP. The Italian company Cappellini produced Tom Dixon’s well-known S-Chair. Cappellini also obtained the license to make the Bird Chaise Longue for a period of twenty years. Today, Tom Dixon manufactures the Bird Chaise in-house and the chair is made in Lithuania.

The chair consists of a wooden frame covered with foam. The chaise longue can be covered in various colors and materials.

The designer Tom Dixon is a versatile creative person who accidentally ended up in the furniture industry. This has done him no harm. Dixon has a number of iconic designs to his name, such as the S-chair and the Jack (the lamp that you can sit on and stack with). This is also noticed by the Swedish furniture giant IKEA. An open source project by IKEA, Tom Dixon and 75 students resulted in 2018 in the Delaktig sofa and bed line. Dixon has already received several prizes, including the Millennium Mark for Great British Design in 1998, OBE for services to British Design in 2000 and the London Design Medal in 2019.

MR chaise longue 1929

MR chaise longue 1929
Photo by knoll.com

Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe | Manufacturer: Knoll International

Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has designed an iconic lounge chair in addition to the Barcelona chair that is on the list of most iconic lounge chairs: the MR chaise longue. Just like the Barcelona chair, the MR chaise longue is made of a combination of aluminum and leather. In contrast to the Barcelona chair, the MR chaise longue does not have a flat steel frame, but round tubes.

In the 1920s, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was not the only one who was experimenting designing furniture with round steel tubes. Also his Hungarian Bauhaus colleague Marcel Breuer – known from the Wassily chair- and the Dutchman Mart Stam designed chairs with tubular frames. Mart Stam is the one who has the artistic copyright for the design of the tubular frame chair without hind legs, the so-called cantilever chair. The three architects inspired each other and collaborated with, among others, manufacturer Thonet.

Although it is clear that this chaise longue is actually no more (and no less) than the MR chair with footstool, the design remains intact. The reason why Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed a chaise longue in the ME serie is obvious; the chair is so comfortable it is perfect for a chaise longue. The tubular frame gives a slight rocking effect, combined with the spherical cushion, makes the MR chaise longue the ultimate relaxing chair.

Over the years, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s furniture has been manufactured by Bamberg Metallwerkstätten, after 1929 by Thonet and from 1948 by Knoll International.

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