Modern Leather Furniture

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In the early 20th century, designers began to experiment with many new techniques to produce a new breed of modern leather furniture. Specifically, there are three pieces of furniture (all chairs) that many people may associate with modern leather use. Marcel Breuer's Wassily chair, Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona series, and Le Corbusier's Grad Comfort series of modern leather furniture all use leather to achieve various stylistic, functional, and aesthetic results.

Three Examples of Modern Leather Furniture

Breuer's Wassily chair, designed in 1925, uses reinforced leather strips stretched across a tubular steel frame to create a comfortable seat that looks as weightless as it is stable. Breuer uses the resilient but pliable nature of leather to provide a sitting surface that isn't supported underneath by any one structural element, as the legs support a traditional chair. The leather on the Wassily chair is instead suspended between two bent tubular steel bars, creating a maze of reflective metal that is periodically interrupted by slashes of deep, rich black.

The Barcelona series, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1928, uses the look and feel of rich, black leather to create a new take on luxury. Originally designed as a modern throne, the Barcelona chairs incorporate tiny, square leather cushions that are sewn together to form an elegantly textured seating surface. The design proved so effective in creating a modern standard of luxurious furnishings that Barcelona chairs are still in high demand today.

In 1929, Le Corbusier released his Grand Comfort Chair as part of the LC series of sofas and chairs. True to form, the Grand Comfort Chair embodies Le Corbusier's idea that a home should be a machine for living in; these truly modern leather furniture items use thick, feather-stuffed cushions of rich black leather to create a supremely comfortable seat for relaxing. Le Corbusier applied a similar design sensibility to a two-seater sofa, a three-seater sofa and an easy chair.


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