Design classics are not only beautiful to look at, simple in their idea and artfully implemented. Design classics also have a certain tradition, something permanent and long-term. But how does a designer piece become a classic?

The history of the design classics


A design piece does not fall from the sky. And it doesn’t just come to his artist out of nowhere. Instead, creating a design classic first requires an idea or inspiration; a basic idea, so to speak, from which a structure can be derived. What follows is a longer process that is made up of countless small intermediate steps, developed and differentiated. This allows design and design to be compared to the characteristics of art – both require vision, patience and courage. In the past, however, such far-reaching ideas were often lacking; existing pieces lacked charm, elegance or aesthetics. This became a problem especially for architects in the planning process for new buildings. The solution: get creative yourself.

The designs of great architects are not only devoted to galleries and furniture stores today. Quite a few museums today deal with the history of well-known design classics and relate them to architecture, art and everyday culture. A piece of furniture, in particular, seems to be at the center of these exhibitions: hardly any design has been revised and reinterpreted as often as the chair. The lively interest lies in the everyday importance of the chair, but also in the constructive challenge of the design. On the one hand it has to bear the weight of the human body, on the other hand it has to convey a certain lightness. The chair is therefore architecture in miniature and a prime example of the combination of form and function that every design classic combines.

❞ Quite a few museums today deal with the history of well-known design classics and relate them to architecture, art and everyday culture. ❝

From the idea to the classic design


A new design piece is usually created on the basis of experience and a pronounced sense of form. Whether this becomes a design classic is determined by various factors, which can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. The intrinsic reasons are primarily understood to be the character traits and properties that are inherent in the object. A new shape that has never been used before, a special design solution or an innovative surface finish. The focus is on the novelty value and innovative character of an object that was created far from previous possibilities. It is easier for well-known or recognized artists to design new classics: The Egg Chair by the Danish designer and architect Arne Jacobsen was designed in 1958 for the lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen and a sculptural contrast to the almost purely vertical and horizontal surfaces of the hotel building formed. However, “the egg” gained international fame not only through the elegant reinterpretation of its simple, almost floating shape, but also through the subsequent presentation in an important design exhibition. The example of Arne Jacobsen’s design shows that even extrinsic factors can influence the external perception and the development of a design piece.

The potential of the latest design classics


Design classics are timelessly beautiful, testify to good quality and durability. Whoever speaks of classics usually means something permanent, something with a traditional character. But what is the potential of recent developments? Can such influential design designs be created today? In fact, young designers find it increasingly difficult to counter their growing range of ideas and visions. Where there was previously a lack of diversity, we are now experiencing a real boost. Young designers always benefit from the short weddings of new materials, but the material innovations no longer seem so massive. And yet there are always newcomers who manage to meet the zeitgeist and thus stand out from the masses. The Swedish label Front manufactures innovative pieces of furniture in 3D printing and thus illustrates new manufacturing possibilities. The design lights from HOLY TRINITY combine timeless aesthetics with familiar human actions, which are bundled in an innovative system and adapted to the control of the light. The minimal design of the design and the new understanding of everyday aesthetics make the products design classics of the latest generation – and prove that far-reaching ideas do not always have to be in the past.

Header image by © Hay

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