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Coconut Chair Ideas

Coconut Chair Ideas

The Coconut Chair was designed in 1955 by the then design director   of the Herman Miller furniture company, George Nelson, and immediately became   a modern classic.  Success should come   as no surprise, as the chair’s creator is one of the most notable figures in   American modern history.


The history of the Coconut Chair has its roots in early European   modernism and its pioneers, including Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Gio Ponti and   Le Corbusier, whose work greatly inspired the young Nelson during his stay in   Europe.  Clear, simple shapes without   unnecessary ornaments shaped Nelson’s future designs.  A few years after his return to the US,   Nelson’s potential was realized by DJ Depree, chairman of the Herman Miller   company.  Despite Nelson’s lack of   experience in furniture design, Depree offered him a position as the   company’s next Director of Design, which he accepted in 1945.  Since then Nelson has provided furniture   projects for the company for over 25 years, including the sensational playful   design of the Coconut Chair.


As the name suggests, the chair resembles a piece of coconut with   inverted colors.  This tropical fruit   wasn’t the only inspiration for Nelson, however.  The shell of the chair is strikingly   similar to the dome of MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.  It is also worth remembering that the   chair’s design originated in the mid-1950s, the beginning of the space race   between Russia and the United States.    This period in modern history, when mankind was deeply fascinated by   space, was also reflected in Nelson’s designs.  He firmly believed: “Design is an   answer to social change.”  If you   look at the Coconut chair you can easily connect to the early satellites like   the Russian Sputnik 1.

The chair is shaped like an eighth of a ball.  However, the vertical corner is slightly   longer than the two side corners.  The   chair lacks well-defined backrests and armrests so that the user is not   prevented from adopting a wide range of positions.  This feature of the design was represented   particularly well by Nelson himself, who summarized the Coconut Chair as   follows: “I developed the chair to offer seating comfort in the lounge   and great freedom of movement.”

The chair’s lightweight shell is made of plastic that is molded in   a molding process.  It looks white and   has a satin finish.  Sitting comfort is   guaranteed by a thick layer of foam rubber covered with black, supple   leather.  The color scheme creates an   interesting, intense contrast between the white bowl and the black   pillow.  The chair is supported by   three thin, chrome-plated legs made of curved steel rods with nylon gliders   at the ends.  The legs are spanned with   the diagonal cross bars for additional structural strength.  The balanced proportions of the chair are   achieved through the geometric consistency between the three-legged base and   the triangular seat pan.

The Coconut Chair is an absolute essence of modernist design.  More than 50 years after its presentation,   the chair has lost none of its futurism.    This timeless piece of furniture still looks extravagant and   fascinating and is a great, tasteful addition to any modern   interior.

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