Frame: Chairs

By Jo Phillips

When we think about a chair, we first think of comfort and support, then we look at the design, the decorations or the overall materials. However, in the end, it is really the frame that matters. It is that one thing which holds everything together keeps us comfortable and untimely makes the chair what it is.

For a while, in history, it was pretty uncommon to completely expose the frame of a chair. It was supposed to be hidden under decorations or its borders to be shown slightly as a matter of taste. But this changed in the late 20s. Notably with Le Corbusier’s and his colleague’s Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand creation the “Grand Confort” armchair with a chrome frame and leather cushions filled with polyurethane foam.

“Cushion Basket” as Le Corbusier himself called it is an armchair which embodies exactly the importance of the frame in the design and the usability of a chair by containing not only the cushions but also the guest together.

Le Corbusier, born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was a Swiss and French-naturalized architect, designer, urban planner, and painter. He is known as one of the most important figures of the Modern Architecture.


The frames that were supposed to be the skeletons of chairs rapidly became exoskeletons by exhibiting various types of new designs. This, of course, set off a movement that could never be turned back from, so here are some of the most creative and exceptional chair designs we have found that expose their very frame:-

Starting with the idea of containing, we definitely could not miss The Barca Chair from Jakob Jørgensen. Made from Japanese Oak with an organic approach, this sophisticated chair looks like it is going to wrap or close itself like a shell but in a gentle soft way resulting in an unusual yet interesting and inviting place to sit or to get wrapped up.

One of the most stripped back, Tom Dixon’s Pylon Chair which claims to be the world’s lightest metal chair. Drawing inspiration from computer programming, electricity pylons and architectural models of bridges, this pure unadorned and triangulated structure is made of 3mm diameter steel. It might be the world’s lightest metal chair but it surely is not the most comfortable one. However, it still remains one of the most unique and recognizable.

Thomas Feichtner’s Octagon chair made together with the Austrian wire manufacturer H+S Zauntechnik is a Cantilever-type chair supported by one single leg.  H+S Zauntechnik’s automated welding process of wire-mesh fences and the overlaying of wires reminded Feichtner of a Shopping trolley. Forming a figure 8, this piece is made of 12 thin stainless wires. Feichtner has been quoted as saying:”It has an almost unreal impression. As a three-dimensional object, it still looks two-dimensional, like a graphical drawing of a pen-on-paper plotter”

Of course, when drawing anything, straight black lines always allow us to give the idea of volume and filling up our objects. Nendo Studio just mirrored this idea into a real chair and other items with “thin black lines” solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery for the London Design Festival to the Frieze Art Fair respectively in September and October 2010. It may be just lines, but it surely gives us an impression of a semi-transparent compact chair.

Eero Aarnio’s Bubble Chair is an acrylic based transparent semi-dome surrounded by a stainless steel ring. Similar to the popular Ball chair which launched the career of the Finnish designer and innovator, this Bubble chair is much more modern and minimalistic. If you want a gravity-defying chair at your home, that’s the one for you.

Emanuele Magini just needed circular elastic fabric, a metal base, and a polyester seat to create this amazing chair. It is actually a chair even though it might not look like one. This wonderful piece does grab the attention by its simplicity and will probably surprise anyone who will try to sit on it. On the front, it looks like a huge flat disc but what is behind is a hidden cushioned seat fixed to a metallic frame, as simple as that.

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