We spend much of our working lives occupying chairs, but since we never really see them we sometimes take them for granted. Luckily there are clever and talented designers willing to renegotiate our relationship with chairs. Here are some examples of strange seats and bizarre benches that dare to be different, from the fabulously elegant and modern to the flippantly humorous and unique and everything in between.
(image via: Fabio Novembre)
Stylish, very modern, very sexy - Fabio Novembre’s His and Her chairs are overtly sensual enough to not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying their (eyebrow-raising) power.
(images via: Freshome / Lisa Jones / High Snobiety)
Also following the contours of its occupant, the Boulom Lounge (left) dates from 1969 and is the creation of Olivier Mourgue - who took it with him when he travelled around. Rather less portable is the Perspective Chair (lower right): created by Domeau & Pérès from a design by Pharrell Williams - the feet suggesting a couple’s stolen kiss. And those with an interest in what’s under our skin will enjoy Lisa Jones’ Vasa Intenstina (2007).
(image: via Inhabitat)
Nendo’s Cabbage Chair starts its life as an upright roll of pleated paper - the chair emerges as each layer is peeled away. The result has a striking resemblance to the sea anemone, predator of the deep.
(Images: via atelier blink / Luxist)
If you like close-fitting decor, the Octopus Chair and the Buldang should prove a deliciously comfortable experience - as long as you don’t have a phobia of cephalopods or pythons, that is.
(Images: via Design Milk)
Truly a chair to disappear into, Christian Flindt’s Orchid Chair seems keen to draw you in.
(Image: via roadsidescholar)
Azelea branches are often used to form a trunk for other flowering species to wind their way up. They’re solid and fascinatingly gnarled - and it’s not hard to see why designers Wisteria considered them as the basis for this extraordinary Azelea Wood Chair.
(Images: via Design Milk / the nest store / CWG Design)
Here’s a set of chairs that look determined to return back to Nature as quickly as possible. On the left, the Chair of the Rings looks like it’s springing apart in an orderly fashion - while on the right, Pablo Renoso’s Spaghetti Wall Small appears to be turning into a vine before your eyes. Occupying the middle ground, the Aspen Chair seems largely content with the ‘chair’ part of its name…apart from a little sneaky growing going on around the top.
(Image: via Aviad Gil)
Made by Israeli designer Aviad Gil, the Conflict Chair is crafted from olive wood (just like the branch that universally symbolizes peace) and its design conveys a variety of messages - not the least being that for two sides to be able to sit down, there must always be a compromise.
(Images: DrawMeaSheep / Paolo Maria Deanesi)
Here are some chairs that have something to say about materials. The L-shaped slice of tree is titled Nature v2.01: it’s a question-mark laid against the grey area between Culture and Nature. In the manufacturer’s words: “On the assumption that our industry puts no limit to the transformation and reproduction of subjects with the pretense of progress, it is likely that some day we might encounter square trees growing in rows“. Simone Racheli’s Meat Chair brings the point home even harder (and if you’re wondering - it’s made of plastic and wax).
(Image: via Jane Hamley Wells)
As Matthew Kroeker sees it, people are just a collection of chairs, trying to find the other chair that fits them so exactly that they make a bench together.
(Image: via JGreen Design)
Two parts velvet couch to one part arachnid, the Living Lounge Chair is crafted from micro-suede and poplar, and has an award-winning design that is guaranteed to be the centre of attention of any room. (Just don’t forget it’s there; it could give you a nasty fright).
(Images: via Design Milk / Green Upgrader / Bornrich)
And for other chairs that have a healthier-than-normal relationship with the ground: the Leaf Rocking Chair couldn’t be a simpler or more portable design; the Once A Door chair is made from reclaimed timber by UK designer Claire Danthios; and the compulsive Internet surfer’s dream, the Surf Chair Workstation, an elegant ergonomic solution to the problem of where your computer goes when you’ve got your feet up!
From their earliest mention in ancient Egyptian inscriptions to the modern trestle and refectory styles we know so well, tables have come a long way. Today, new materials and design methods are injecting further creativity into modern tables - but are they having an identity crisis? These 16 table designs look like they are eager to be something else.
(Image: via John Nouanesing)
Old furniture can always be reinvented with a fresh, bright lick of paint. This table picks up the concept and runs with it - giving the illusion of a board dripping with a river of fresh red paint. Designer John Nouanesing hides function (the table legs) within illusion - it is likely a great deal sturdier than it first appears.
(Images: via Absolut Form and Amy Youngs)
Here is another table that seems to dispense with legs. Danish designer Essey’s Grand Illusion appears to be a tablecloth hovering in mid-air - but the clue is in the title. It is made from 3mm-thick acrylic, firm enough to magically suspend your coffee cup (David Copperfield would approve). More practically, for those with a penchant for countertop composting, the Digestive Table offers an earthier alternative - at its heart is a contained ecosystem to process food scraps and create rich fertilizer for indoor plants.
(Images: via Architecture MNP and Fernando And Humberto Campana)
A table that thinks it’s a cutlery drawer - called Precious Famine, this arresting web of metalwork is made of Christofle silverware. Don’t drop your spoon on this table - you’ll never find it again. In a similarly reflective mood, the Brasilia table appears to be salvaging Art from seven years of bad luck, by forming a mosaic of mirror shards. The inspiration is the chaotic jumble of stone that form the foundations of Brazil’s capital city.
(Images: via design boom and Anyroom)
These tables don’t want to keep still - or so it appears. The r.n.i. tables of Korean designer Chul An Kwak are modeled on running horses, but there’s a frond-like hint of the deep sea in those trailing legs. Anyroom’s Dance table looks similarly intent on being elsewhere, but more sedately, like a caterpillar.
(Images: via Julia West Home and James McAdam)
Surely we are now on firmer ground now, with this bedside table like a low dresser, and this tall table fit for a lamp? Not when the former folds out into a sofa (as easily and simply as sliding out a drawer) and the latter is a piece of furniture fit for an ancient Celtic warrior. James McAdam has designed the table as a response to the security fears of around half of Londoners, but it’s bound to hit a chord with the inhabitants of other thriving cities.
(Image: via Tineke Beunders)
In Japan, a third of a million people are gainfully employed in sending tiny steel balls bouncing around vertical tables. That seems to be the inspiration behind Marbelous, perhaps the world’s first piece of Pachinko furniture. Watch as the balls wind their way through the tabletop, corkscrew down the legs and collect in the feet (and be sure to watch out for any that have escaped onto the floor).
(Images: via design mong and Lee Stoetzel and Link Studios)
Not content to be just a table, the House On The Table wants to be your entire office. The draught round your legs may be disconcerting, but otherwise this table offers all the basics of a modern workspace, bookcase and all. Lee Stoetzel’s creation looks like it belongs on your shelf, but it is actually a table in disguise - whilst the Stink tree table (yes, that’s the name) cunningly masquerades as an ex-table. However, a closer look reveals that crack running through its centre is a beautifully crafted tree.
(Images: via Because We Can and CNET)
Perhaps modern technology is more to your liking - in which case, these tables are sure to please. The Wave is a coffee table inset with a network of motion-sensitive LEDs: wave your hand over its surface, and a ripple of light will follow your motion. A table to make the most of your best glassware. The HP Labs Misto table, on the other hand, thinks it is your computer screen, allowing you and your loved ones to view photos and movies and play games on its touch-sensitive surface.
(Image: via lovegrove and repucci)
And lastly, a table with a sense of real grandeur. The Concerto Table looks for all the world like a super-modern Grand Piano … until dinnertime, at which point drawers slide out to reveal your best silver cutlery. It’s also designed to be a musical centerpiece, thanks to the built-in housing for an iPod. But, sadly, there are no ivories to tinkle.
(Check out our complete collection of Unusual, Creative and Transforming Furniture.)
If you need something to store books anyway, why not choose something that makes a statement or serves two purposes like a bookcase that doubles as a secret door or a book shelf the is also a bed? Some of these shelving systems are virtually invisible while others are virtual works of art in their own right. So, if you or a book-lover you know are stuck on how to redecorate your urban dwelling and store your favorite volumes here are twenty unusually clever book shelving solutions.
Stairs Bookshelves: What started as a space-saving strategy turned into a centerpiece of this interior redesign. The experience: complete book-overload as the London owners make their way to the loft bedroom above the main floor of their condo. Shot from virtually any perspective the result is remarkably attractive and a good reminder that a lack of space can be a great design opportunity.
Bookshelves and Bookcases Made of Books: Jim Rosenau has a very particular (and peculiar) furniture-made niche related to his love of books: furniture (particularly shelves and bookcases) made of books. His work is sold around the country and the world and can be purchased online from his website or made-to-order. His past experience as a comedy writer and carpenter seem like as good a background as any for someone creating these clever and humorous bookshelves and bookcases.
Bookcase Bedroom: Most parents want to surround their children with books, but most don’t take that advice quite so literally. This bookcase bedroom designed by Point Architects in Tokyo is a great example of a Japanese approach to space-saving interior design: why have walls or bookshelves when you can have both in one?
Color-Coded Books: This amazingly organized color-coded bookshelf arrangement is a great example of how not only bookcases but the books stored in them can be decorative. Can you imagine the time, energy and dedication it would take to meticulously sort your entire book collection by color? And worse yet: what do you do when you have to add another book to your collection?
Bookcase Door to Hidden Room: We’ve all seen it in the movies: you pull the book from the shelf and the mysterious door opens into a secret room to the side. Well, this isn’t a mansion in a murder mystery - just someone’s house - but when they were renovating they wanted maximum book storage but to get it they had to obstruct a door. Instead of an ungainly workaround they simple bookcased over the door and made a secret one instead.
Bookcase Door: Besides one-off secret-room bookcase doors there are entire design firms and creative interior design lines dedicated to dual-functioning bookcases. The Woodfold Bookcase Door System is designed to camouflage anything from a closet or a wine cellar to a wall safe or a private retreat.
Rafter Shelving System: Exposed rafters can be a nice touch visually but if you’re living in cramped quarters you know that every bit of usable space has surprising potential. This is definitely a simple solution and easily executed by one that provides great overflow space for anyone who finds it hard to throw old books away.
Hanging Bookshelves: This book hanger system is designed with style and materials clearly in mind. The concept is to have books hanging like clusters of grapes that sway with any movement and can be casually plucked by people passing by. The overall aesthetic impression is one of fragility, reflecting the delicate nature of old books and running contrary to the traditional idea of bookshelves and bookcases as some of the heaviest objects in a room.
Bed Bookcase: While not everyone may find the results attractive the concept behind this convertible bed-and-bookcase design is an admiral start anyway. As a space-saving device this would be a great way to keep an extra bed around and then let it blend into the background, wrapped around bookshelves, when not in use.
Invisible Bookshelf: If you really want to wow your guests an invisible shelf system might be just the solution. Talk about minimalist design: once your books are in place the support seems to disappear entirely. However, since hidden grips hang onto the insides of your books you might want to use this solution primarily for throw-away paperbacks and magazines.
Invisible Bookshelf Stacks: While these shelves are quite visible when bare, once they are filled up they all but disappear. The resulting effect is the appearance of a disturbingly tall stack of seemingly unsupported by anything but the books of which it is composed. This has quite a lot of potential entertainment value: sit back and watch your visitors bump into one and leap into action trying to keep it from toppling (which it won’t).
Floating Bookshelf: Available for around 10 dollars from Amazon this simple-but-clever invisible bookshelf design is definitely priced right. The appearance? Books seem to hang invisible along the wall, stacked apparently on nothing. The trick? The bottom book isn’t real and supports the rest.
DIY Bookcase: Don’t want to spend all that money on a fancy bookcase? Someone submitted a 60-minute do-it-yourself bookcase design-and-construction process to Instructables worth checking out. Sure, the joinery is pretty low-tech and the material is plywood but for a cheap shelving solution built from a single piece of ply in an hour the result is surprisingly sophisticated.
Gravity Bookshelves: While this wonderful bookshelf system is not yet in production it is an excellent example of how a few well-chosen materials and a minimal number of cuts can go a long way. This apparently complex and visually compelling shape is held together entirely by gravity - a great example of modernist interior design principles of simplicity and structural honesty loosely translated into a far-from-simple form.
(Check out our complete collection of 90 Creative Urban Furniture Designs.)
Most of us will spend approximately one-third of our lives in the bedroom. Some say the bedroom is the most important room in the house since it’s where we go to recharge after a long day. These funky and unexpected bedroom furnitures and specific furniture designs could add some visual interest to your room, help you sleep better, or just maximize your available space.
(image via: BonBon)
This sofa bed/bunk bed combo seems like it was dreamed up by a designer who grew up watching the Transformers cartoon. The seemingly innocuous sofa goes from mild-mannered sitting place to totally awesome bunk bed in mere seconds. More than meets the eye, indeed. For studio apartments or small guest rooms, this is an essential piece of furniture.
(image via: JamesMcAdam)
Designed with security-conscious Londoners in mind, the Self-Defense Table provides a way to defend yourself and fight back if you are ever confronted in your home. The tabletop becomes a shield, and the support becomes a bludgeoning object. If you have to have a self-defense weapon in your home, this table seems like a safe and functional choice.
(image via: Tranism)
This fascinating bed is perfect for everyone who’s ever wondered why they just can’t hold on to a partner. Simply place some rose petals and gourmet chocolates on top, wait for your target to take the bait, and pull the rope. Don’t forget to drill some air holes in the box. Unfortunately, this design isn’t available in stores. It was part of alternative design event Come Up To My Room held at Gladstone Hotel in Toronto.
(image via: EasyChair WorkStations)
This laptop desk could be your dream come true or your worst nightmare. Of course, it makes using your laptop in bed much easier and less stressful on your back. But once you have a comfortable way to surf the web, hold your drink, and lie down all at once, you may find yourself spending a lot more time in bed.
(image via: Techeblog)
For those truly tiny bedrooms that have no extra space at all, this space-saving fetal position bed has a minuscule footprint. Don’t count on having any overnight companions, though. You’ll have a hard enough time staying in it yourself. As of now, this concept is not being produced for sale. You have to imagine that there are at least a few people out there who would be brave enough to try it.
(image via: FlyingBeds)
In smaller homes where space is at a premium, cleverly designed morphing furniture is the best way to maximize the space you have. This amazing desk/bed is a perfect example of how to maintain the functionality of two pieces of furniture while only needing room for one piece. You don’t even have to move your gear from the desk surface before folding the bed out.
(image via: DoobyBrain)
People with sleep problems often try everything they can think of to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping pills, warm milk, meditation, strenuous exercise…but what if the problem is your bed? The Lomme Bed is designed to provide you with the most naturally peaceful sleep of your life. It integrates soft lighting and soothing sounds with a comfy sleeping surface. Even the egg-like shape of the bed invokes a sense of security and comfort.
(image via: Dvice)
Do you need a place to store your infinitely self-similar pieces of clothing? The Fractal 23 can solve that problem, delight your inner math nerd, and look cool all at the same time. The 23 drawers in the Fractal 23 are arranged in such a clever way that it’s possible to store a large amount of stuff in them, yet when the drawers are closed you’re left with a smallish cube. Don’t try putting these fractals inside the Klein bottle house, though. We suspect that would create some sort of mathematical paradox that would eventually destroy the world. Continue on to see even stranger urban furniture designs.