May 19 2010
Lucia van der Post
There’s something about the club chair that speaks of warm domesticity, of a lack of pretension and an honest love of comfort. Many a grand international designer has been attracted by its form and given us their own take on this archetypal chair, from Le Corbusier’s Le Petit Confort to Zanotta’s amazing see-through blow-up plastic version.
My own much cherished club chair, a seriously shabby French one, was tracked down in a now-vanished antiques shop in London’s Fulham Road, but these days the charm of the club chair has attracted the attentions of some very contemporary designers.
Take Eric Jourdan, one of the French company Ligne Roset’s stable of designers. His own version, which he calls “Harry” (first picture; in fabric or hide, from £1,596-£2,359, depending upon the upholstery), was recently launched at Paris’s Maison et Objet and will be on sale here later this year. He was inspired, he says, by what he perceives to be a quintessentially English piece of furniture, which he acknowledges by dedicating it to “England, where the most flamboyant of modernity and tradition meet (bowler hat and dreadlocks).”
He has given the club chair a modern makeover and though nothing in my view quite matches up to the real thing, the real thing is now hard to get hold of, and so “Harry” has a role to play. It looks splendidly relaxed and inviting in its own very modern way and it comes with two different foot options (slim and elegant or more solid and square) as well as being upholstered in lots of different colours.
Homing in on this longing for reassuring familiar shapes, Poltrona Frau has dug into its archives and come with its New Deal chair, a re-edition of a 1930s model (second picture). With a beechwood frame and rubberised horsehair fillings, it looks wonderfully round and comforting. It’s now on sale for £4,190.
There is also a lyrical version of this traditional design in the Heal’s ReDiscovers collection. It’s called the Antoinette armchair (third picture, £1,405) and, to cover this classic shape, Osborne & Little has designed a fabric, Prima Donna, a traditional floral, made modern with fluorescent pink roses and a silvery-grey background (though customers can choose whatever fabric they want).
However, if nothing but the really shabby old vintage look will do for you, a company called Rose & Grey has produced a wonderfully authentic-looking “vintage” club chair in suitably shabby leather, for £695 (fourth picture).