Are there elegant comfortable recliners out there? Just last week I was faced with this question when a new client called me to say that her husband was insistent that I include a recliner of some sort in my proposal to them next week. So before calling La-Z-Boy, I looked to my sources to see what I could come up with. Imagine my surprise when I was able to present not just one, but three choices to them.
First up, the Cleo chair by German designer Georg Appeltshauser for Swiss company FSM. Covered in luxurious buttery leather and with an extra long footrest that reclines for an almost horizontal experience, I realized that this task wouldn’t compromise my design aesthetic. The steel base is a nod to mid century design and the shaped backrest provides added style to this candidate.
The next option and my personal favorite was the Just chair (top of the page and below), which is all about comfort in a smaller package. Also by Appeltshauser and FSM – who appear to have cornered the market for comfortable recliners – the swiveling club chairs are of good scale for intimate conversation nooks. With no unsightly, cumbersome leavers, this chair reclines by simply leaning back into the adjustable back. So it’s kind of like having a hidden recliner as part of your décor.
From Wittmann of Austria and designed by Nasrallah & Horner, is another chair that I fit into the category of “first class airline” style of recliner. The Spencer chair (below) is similar to the Cleo at the top, but here everything moves either in harmony or alone to create a perfectly customized reclining experience.
Again what makes these new comfortable recliners so different from those of the past is their open bases that give them a lighter feeling and keep them from appearing too bulky and overbearing in a modern room.
So there you have it: stylish comfortable recliners really do exist. Is it just coincidence that all of these shown above are from European companies? Are American designers still too haunted by recliners of the past to come up with something this modern and beautiful? And no, without them I still wouldn’t have called La-Z-Boy.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits from top to bottom: comfortable recliners: Cleo and Just Chairs, FSM, Switzerland; Spencer Chair, Wittmann, Austria.
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