When you take the strict geometric lines of Classic Modernism, combine them with an emphasis on form and function, toss in a proclivity towards simplicity and purity, include a strong appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry, mix it all with the latest... [more]
When you take the strict geometric lines of Classic Modernism, combine them with an emphasis on form and function, toss in a proclivity towards simplicity and purity, include a strong appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry, mix it all with the latest technological advances in high tech materials, then you start to get a sense of the flavor of Late Modern furniture. One of the important new facets of furniture design that has arisen during the Late Modern movement is the closer union of the human body to the furniture. Ergonomics has been elevated to something of a science, and, like most sciences, comes with its own set of controversies. But the underlying motive behind the ergonomic movement in furniture is to support the human body in ways that are most conducive to health and comfort.
On a divergent tack with a philosophy inimical to ergonomics are the important Memphis and Postmodern styles. Completely forsaking any attempt at comfort, some of these products are almost too intimidating to use. Scott Burton's 'Aluminum Chair' (1981) serves as a perfect example of this furniture which, rather than inviting us, dares us to sit. Memphis designs often present abstract interpretations of their inspiring forerunners. Instead of a bookshelf, we might see a complex, geometrical maze which, in truth, books might very well fit. A chair becomes a study in Euclidean form with rectangles, lines, and circles coming together to serve (however uncomfortably) a simple function. Creating a powerful sense of shape and plane, the Memphis style invokes thoughts of the purity of platonic ideals.
The new materials made available through technological advances have given designers freedom to create pieces that seem impossible, unbalanced, fantastic. Phillipe Starck's Caf' Costes chairs threaten to collapse under an adult's weight. Mario Botta's 'Secundo' armchair has little apparent relation to our platonic idea of its namesake, and does little to inspire participation from our derrieres. On the other hand, designers such as Alexander Porsche, Niels Diffrient, and Vico Magistretti create chairs that beckon sitters with a compulsiveness that can be equated to the call of a siren. [show less]