When it comes to the finest innovations in design since 1991, can you beat a perfectly rendered chair? I was born in 1992, but our house was a century old which, to Americans, is as if a European house were 1,000 years old, maybe 5,000. (Think of it like translating dog years to human years.) That meant we had a good deal of old furniture, almost ancient, it seemed; but the crème de la crème of our stodgy, older-than-history furniture was a furry, yellow chair that you would sink into, pull a lever on its side to release a squeaking, springing footrest and, generally, never leave. To me, that always felt like luxury, until, that is, the Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec ‘Spring’ chair – which the Paris-based duo had designed for the Italian manufacturer Cappellini – was released in 1999. We never bought it, of course. (How could that ever possibly fit in such a historical house?) But I do remember trying it in a shop – the sheer ease of it: the spring-loaded footrest that moved with your legs (no lever!); the headrest that could be shifted up or down. And how comfortably unfurry – simple foam and fabric over a clean shell. I was only seven years old, so perhaps this is a bit of revisionism, but I’d like to think I then knew, while trying that chair, that I wanted whatever the future had to offer. Clean and simple. Our old creaky, sinking chair – like our house – a far-flung relic of the past.
First published in Issue 200