Design Awards: One Winning Chair and Three Definite Misses

An origami-like plywood chair is a hit. Skin-like leather, patchwork and hairy wool chairs are definite misses

Credit: Courtesy Red Dot

Orizuru chair wins Red Dot Best of the Best 2010 award

With so much design talent at home and abroad, it’s no surprise that design awards number in the dozens

After all, there’s much to covet when it comes to stunning interiors and eye-catching objets that make you consider spending a month’s salary on, oh, a single chair.

There’s the annual Red Dot design awards, for instance, which boast more than 12,000 submissions (from architecture and interior design to products galore) from 60-plus companies. The 2010 award for the Best of the Best 2010 was bestowed on Ken Okuyama for his Orizuru chair, the shape of which was inspired by a paper origami crane. Though at first glance it might look like metal, it’s been crafted from a single piece of plywood (pictured above). It’s no surprise that Tendo Co., the Japanese company that manufactured the classic Butterfly Stool in 1956, also engineered this elegant innovation.  

When you consider the craftsmanship of the Orizuru chair you can’t help but appreciate its design, even if it doesn’t suit your style. Want an extreme close up? Check out Red Dot’s YouTube video. Convinced that it’s a design hit? I am. But the three I-don’t-know-what-they-were-thinking items that have made it to market, shown below, were big misses on my list of sweet seating.  

1. Skin Isn’t In

Browse Quinz & Milan’s website and you’ll find streamlined tables and modular sofas. And then there’s the, er, statement-making Second Skin chair. It leaves me wondering if this Lady Gaga-esque eyesore was designed as homage to the meat dress the songstress wore to the MTV awards. Loose layers of leather are draped on a wooden frame, like, well, fresh kill. The Belgian designers say, “we stripped down the notorious easy chair from all unnecessary frills, until we were left with nothing but its core, the bones.” Someone, please dress this mess!

2. From Icon to Eyesore

Arne Jacobson’s iconic Egg chair has been re-imagined (re-nightmared?) by Danish manufacturer Fritz Hansen in honour of its 50-year anniversary. Purists know the original Egg chair (a symbol of fertility) was upholstered in bold red fabric. Now it’s available in an array of modern hues, like cool blues and pale yellows, which keep the coveted chairs au courant in design circles. But these patchwork patterns (there are eight options to choose from, including shades of brown, earthy hues, pinks and more) are just plain peculiar. Perhaps Hansen liberated some leftover fabric to produce these uncharacteristically ugly items. Two words: crazy quilt. A better alternative? Fritz Hansen’s RIN, deemed the “perfect chair” by its designer, Hiromicho Konno. Check out the article I wrote about it in BC Home magazine.

3. The Unsexy Beast

I can’t help but extol the virtues of companies that are doing their part to go green. Case in point: Los Angeles-based Environment Furniture. The company uses FSC-certified wood and repurposed military fabrics in its pieces, which give you that warm fuzzy feeling at the thought of buying something sustainable. In fact, we’ve even featured a stylish item or two in past issues of BC Home. But Environment Furniture took fuzzy too far when it designed the Giramundo swivel wool chair, which sports a hairy seat made from multi-coloured recycled yarn. Sure, it looks comfy, and who doesn’t want to swivel in a chair. But how does one even begin to consider cleaning this unsexy beast?  

Got a favourite item or ugly object you want to share? Post your links in the comments.