Imagine a house without furniture. Looks kind of boring isn’t it?
Even minimalist designs have at least one or two pieces to create a sense of balance in the emptiness.
For thousands of years, humans have used furniture in virtually every kind of home.
Furniture also adds many functions to living spaces in a house. One could even presume that people from ancient times learned to make furniture first before houses.
The advent of manufacturing and improved materials through scientific developments also bolstered the furniture-making industry. Various inventors and designers filed patents for their unique designs.
From the pleasing to the bizarre, some furniture pieces truly draw out people’s curiosities. Take a look at some beautiful trade marked pieces that will make you think what else can be done by ingenious designers.
Great minds and their great masterworks
Like fashion and other branches of art and industry, the furniture trade has its fair share of great minds.
In 1835, Robert Jupe came up with a clever idea for people who loved having guests. England was in full bloom in the industrial revolution, and installing mechanical improvements to everyday devices was the “in” thing. “Jupe’s Improved Expanding Table” was his invention, patented by Johnstone, Jupe & Company shortly before the Victorian Era began.
The table provided extra space on demand with Jupe’s crafty design. Rotating the table’s apron throws out eight “leaves” on glides that allow leaf inserts to fit in parallel. The result has a larger tabletop area, making the furniture piece a valuable addition to large houses or royal dining areas. The design was so successful its production continued on throughout the 19th century.
At the turn of the 20th century, designers explored new styles. Mies van der Rohe created masterpieces that blended luxury fabrics with modern-age elements such as chrome steel. Some of his popular are the Brno and Tugendhat chairs.
These chairs steered away from the usual 4-leg approach, utilising the immense strength and flexibility of steel for the base instead. As the last Bauhaus art school director, his accomplishments are remembered to this day with designers taking up inspiration from his works.
Australia is lucky to have a good handful of famous names who created beautiful (and sometimes peculiar) pieces to adorn houses.
Perhaps the most well-known among them is Grant Featherston, a Geelong-based furniture designer. The Featherston name shot to popularity with the modernist Contour chairs of the mid-twentieth century.
The man was such an expert that furniture lovers consider his works as collectibles. His other popular pieces such as the Eleanor and Scape chairs, fetch for high prices in auctions.
Another name with a claim to fame for his undeniably out-of-the-box designs is Marc Newson. The Sydney College of Arts graduate is an internationally-acclaimed designer with various works under his belt. Furniture is just one of his many areas of expertise.
One such design that both art and furniture enthusiasts would recognise is the Lockheed Lounge. The exquisite par excellence piece was a sensation in the 1980s and continues to fetch high prices in auctions today. It was made of aluminium, fibreglass, and other contemporary materials, and shaped in refined curves. The lounge was made in a limited run from 1988 to 1990.
An auction in 2015 by auction house Phillips in London successfully sold one for £2,434,500.
Peter Bristol’s “Cut Chair” is another example of combining brilliant design and modern aesthetics. The chair, both an artwork and a functional piece, is made of rigid steel with its legs designed to look incomplete. A carpet conceals a metal plate underneath that supports the whole structure.
The modern age brought about even crazier ideas from various designers around the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting samples that have been patented.
Clever contraptions for all sorts of uses
Mankind has never truly left the wild with his insatiable desire to enjoy the outdoors. For those who love going out, whether they’re going to a beach party or camping out in the woods, there’s the Chair Backpack.
This novel sitting contraption was submitted to the US Patent Office by James Stockman in 2000 and approved in 2006. The apparatus can convert between a modest-sized chair and a balanced backpack by folding. According to its design layout, it also requires no tools for unpacking and stowage.
Another example of this invention for outdoor use is Chair-Pak. Designed by outdoor enthusiast Les Ammann, Chair-Pak provides a comfortable seat that can be carried anywhere by bikers, hikers, and adventure travellers.
Other inventors have other things in mind aside from comfort.
For example, the “Desk and Removable Bullet-Resistant Desktop Shield” is literally, a desk with a bulletproof top one can use as cover. There isn’t much information going about this patent but it sure is an interesting find for functions. That said, hopefully anyone who might own such a table would use it more for writing than against intruders.
When it comes to futurism, artist Klemens Torggler has prepared a piece that embodies sophistication and function: “The Evolution Door.” Its unique construct allows users to simply swing a doorway open and close with a smooth movement showcasing its geometric design.
To move, the user simply pulls the door in a horizontal motion, and the door’s mechanism collapses its two separate squares to “fold” and open up in the space adjacent to it. The idea will remind you of origami, a Japanese paper sculpture that utilises folding techniques.
The late creative designer Judson Beaumont, on the other hand, focused his energy on making whimsical artistic pieces that ranged from quirky to crazy. Beaumont created child-friendly designs that have been exhibited in various shows and media features. His Dali-esque works range from cabinets to soft lounge chairs and benches and are mostly made of wood.
Special-use furniture also exists, even those for particular human activities. Enter the Tantra Chair, a discreet-looking chair for intimate moments. Designed and patented by American company Zen By Design, the Tantra Chair is handcrafted luxury furniture. Its build employs stain-free antimicrobial leather, high-density foam with baseball stitching, and uses wide arcs and deep contours for maximum comfort.
Convertibles and multi-purpose devices
When it comes to technology, everything can be used for multitasking. Take this multi-purpose headboard by Jason D. Myers. According to his patent, the proposed headboard is to be installed for use in a bed, which will give it a plethora of uses. Some functions include a backrest, storage unit, and placements for mounting other devices.
Its mounted boom arm can accommodate a flat-screen TV, and the compartments to its side can host various storage compartments. Its configuration allows it to provide a comfortable angled resting support for the back and neck.
High-rise dwellers and those living in spaces with a restricted floor area may love this idea by Julia Kononenko. It’s an excellent combination of a sofa, dining table, and padded stools. Its primary form is a sofa, which can be unfolded and unpacked to form the dining table and stools.
The transforming furniture is an ideal piece for cramped spaces to maximise the living areas. Its design is also soft and smooth on the eyes. It has rounded edges, a cosy combination of subdued earthy colours and is made of durable yet light materials.
Another unique creation is Story, a multifunctional mix that incorporates a bed with other furniture. Just like Julia Kononenko’s piece, Story is centred around the concept of maximising space in tight living areas. It puts together a bed, a workstation, and a sofa – an incredibly convenient combination for small apartments.
Created by Fanny Adam, Story innovates an ergonomic scheme with each piece. Its undercarriage fits two large drawers, which can be used in both sofa and bed modes. The workstation is a long table behind the back support in sofa mode. In this fashion, one can safely put a laptop, notebooks, and even a plate of chips for studying or work.
Similarly, also to the sofa/dining table above, Story is made of durable, scratch-resistant Formica wood and laminate that’s easy to maintain and stow away.
Furniture is part of mankind’s everyday life. Many industrial designers and inventors have devised creative ways to make them both beautiful and functional.
The immense number of trade marks of furniture companies and designs show how important it is for designers to have their ideas protected. This is why engineers, artists, and builders collaborate to put together their concepts and bring them to life. The influx of new patents for furniture only indicates the industry is still vibrant with new projects that make life beautiful and better.