The shape of an animal turns into a chair: you just need to think of which species, which peculiarity or movement to pick up and change them into a new way of sitting. From the heavy solidity of an elephant to the lightness of a butterfly wing’s flapping, from the strength of a bull, to the regality of a lion, ending to the predating skills of a shark: also a chair can give quite a character to your office.
When it’s about turning an animal into a chair, the human imagination can really express itself in thousands of ways. We have chosen 10 among the best seats created by great designers and produced by famous design companies.
A common feature is the multifuncionality (piling Michele De Lucchi’s stools Bisonte (Produzione Privata), for example, you can even create a coat rack) and the easy way of using and stocking, of which Giovanni Baccolini’s Papillon (Ares Line) is a great example.
From the social herd of Plint, the sheep-chair designed by Sandin and Bülow for Materia (Kinnarps Group), to the functional compartment spaces of Mobica Plus’s Sharko and to the mobility of the trolley-chair Torro (both Martin Ballendat’s works). As weel as Papillon, also the prize-winning Odo Fioravanti’s Libellula (Segis) gives the idea of lightness, whereas a playful atmosphere is expressed by Andrea Santarossa e Valerio Mistura’s Kokkodè (Ilpo Design) and Carl Öjerstam Elephant (Materia).
Other works, instead, tend to sum up the character of an animal, as Promemoria’s Poltrona del Leone or Cow Horn (PP Mobler) designed by Hans Wegner, a real forerunner who was already working on “the connection between animals and design” in 1952. A theme that is quite mainstream nowadays, as it is shown by “ANIMAlità”, the new exhibition at Triennale Design Museum of Milano from 13th of January to 22nd of February.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
1 Plint, Sandin e Bülow. Materia (gruppo Kinnarsp).
A herd of chairs. The Plint barstool is meant as an all-around seating . The softshaped padded seat allows you to sit in two different ways: striding it or sitting with both legs ahead.Plint is available in two heights, with the bench version being lower and broader, inviting two people to sit together either back to back or side by side. Plint has been included in the Stockholm National Museum’s modern design collection.
2 Elephant, Carl Öjerstam. Materia (gruppo Kinnarsp).
This chair is not directly inspired by the animal world, but reminds us the stools where elephants stand up during a circus show. It has a very robust design that looks the same from all directions and it is available in three heights with seat in black integral foam or upholstered in fabric or leather.
3 Sharko, Martin Ballendat. Mobica Plus.
An innovative new category of seats that offers an integrated storage compartment and optional 360 degree rotating writing pads which can be used as a little office space. This chair can be really used anywhere work needs to be done and it is perfect for team-working. The Sharko shell is made of foamed polyurethane. The inner structure is specially designed so that the backrest supports the user’s weight comfortably while the semi-rigid PU surface gives the impression of warmth and of a pleasant touch.
4 Torro, Martin Ballendat. Mobica Plus.
Torro is the new allround saddle-chair for a designed and colored office, useful as seating, as a mobile trolley or as a stool. Like Sharko, Torro is made of polyurethane and offers a simple storage compartment for the laptop case and all the documents a mobile office employee can need. In addition, thanks also to the retractable stainless steel handle, it is very simple to move and storage, too.
5 Dragonfly, Odo Fioravanti. Segis.
Dragonfly reached the 2014 Best of Year Awards’ final at New York’s IAC. A revolutionary idea by Fioravanti who designed a cantilever seat with legs grafted on the front of the chair, imagining to defy gravity like the legs of a dragonfly. A U-shaped hidden under the seat element increases the structural integrity while the dynamism is exalted by the back of the injection-molded polypropylene shell with ribs, which explicitly refers to the automotive industry.
6 Poltrona del leone, Promemoria. Lion.
The lion’s grace is embodied by the metal curves which recall the oxymoronic idea of a “dynamic rest”, while the slightly backwards imbalanced sitting position makes you feel the regality of the king of the jungle. In addition, the anterior legs end in two paw-shape feet and the two circles of the armrests recall the volume of the mane. The inspiration is openly declared by the lion image on the seatback.
7 Cow Horn (pp505), Hans J. Wegner. PP Mobler.
Designed in 1952, Cow Horn is one of the smallest chairs designed by Wegner. A compact chair, made just by two pieces of wood, joined in the middle: an homage to the beauty of manually carved wood. Instead of hiding the joint, Wegner decided to enhance it and make it a decorative feature of the design, using wood of a contrasting color. This original idea would have later become a characteristic trademark in many of his works.
8 Kokkodè, Andrea Santarossa con Valerio Mistura. Ilpo Design.
In this funny seat the animal shape is not in the object itself, but it is in the user’s pose that reminds of a chicken brooding her egg. This pouffe, made of foamed polyurethane, allows a correct back posture both on the edge and on the side. Inside the egg a counterweight is positioned to allow the chair to come straight back everytime. Picture © Nicole Sebastiani.
9 Bisonte, Michele De Lucchi. Produzione Privata.
Part of the Fuori dal Mondo collection by Produzione Privata, the birch-wood-made stool recalls the horns of a buffalo in the slight curve element of the seat. An animal that is the symbol of the great american prairies along with the Native’s totem, the shape of which is created, instead, by easily piling different stools up and turning them into a coat rack. Picture © Michele De Lucchi.
10 Papillon, Giovanni Baccolini. Ares Line.
The inspiration given by the animal world is here linked to the simple and mild movement of the first flapping of a butterfly coming out from its chrysalis. As a matter of fact, you just need four simple moves either to open or to close it, without filling much space. Elegant, transportable, confortable, silent, with an optional rotating writing pad. Papillon is what you can really call “multifunctional”.