Micaela Marini Higgs
Micaela Marini Higgs

Curious Minds Podcast: Why Do We Keep Designing Furniture?

  • by Micaela Marini Higgs @micaela_mh

Discover the creative history that our furniture has to share with Curious Minds, an original podcast by Domestika

Curious Minds is an original podcast by Domestika that explores the curiosities and untold histories of the creative world.

Each week we’ll bring you a new episode, interviewing experts and creatives as we dive into the unusual origins of the images, patterns, and designs we take for granted.

Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to never miss an episode.

Even though we use it every day, furniture can be easy to take for granted. It’s just there, right? And isn’t a chair just a chair?

But why do you pick one sofa over another? The answer isn’t just about price, functionality, or aesthetics. After all, there are plenty of good-looking pieces that you like but might not want to have in your home.

Filling our homes with the right pieces can, well, make us feel at home. So, how do designers approach this challenge that combines form, function, and feelings?

In our seventh episode of Curious Minds, we interview IKEA designer Marcus Avronen and bespoke furniture maker Stewart Linford about what furniture design has to say about us, and we explore with industrial designer Mark Goetz how something as simple as a desk can be part of a creative history that few of us have ever stopped to consider.

Sometimes when we imagine concepts like “design”, it can be easy to gloss over the design that goes into the objects that fill our everyday lives.

But even if it’s easy to take for granted, furniture is more than just functional. And whether you’re commissioning a custom-made piece in rare wood from a furniture maker like Linford, or assembling flat-packed furniture conceived of by IKEA designers like Avronen, the choices these designers make literally shape the way we think about and interact with our spaces.

Wheelback Windsor Armchair by Stewart Linford.
Wheelback Windsor Armchair by Stewart Linford.

But with so many chairs, tables, and sofas designs already out there, why bother creating more?

“One time somebody asked me that question and I said, ‘You wouldn’t ask an author why write another book,’” says Goetz. His answer was one that any designer might give, “There's something that I have to say, there's something I want to contribute, there's something that I want to give… and hopefully, there's somebody on the other end, willing to receive that and appreciate it.”

The Laurel Bench for Bernhardt Design by Mark Goetz. The silhouette is inspired by the idea of two hands welcoming the sitter
The Laurel Bench for Bernhardt Design by Mark Goetz. The silhouette is inspired by the idea of two hands welcoming the sitter

Throughout history, furniture designers have not only tried to leave their personal stamp on their work, but they’ve also had to react to larger social, cultural, and design movements. Art Deco flourishes, for instance, can be found not just in architecture and art but also in armchairs.

And if you’re looking for an example of how a single piece of furniture can be interpreted in an endless number of ways, you need only look at the desk. From representing wealth and literacy centuries ago when few people could afford furniture to the hot-desking and home working of today, the history of desk design reflects the larger history of technology and how designers have adapted to it.

To learn more about how furniture designers go about creating pieces that react to the needs of the current moment, and how the creativity we can see reflected in our homes is our own, you can listen to Curious Minds on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Click on the link below to download a transcript of this episode. It will be saved in your Downloads folder as a PDF.

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CM S1E7 What Furniture Brings to the Table, Transcript.pdf

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If you'd like to read more stories behind the images, patterns, and designs we take for granted, check out our other blog posts for Curious Minds, an original podcast by Domestika.

You may also like:

- Curious Minds Podcast: What Even Is Knolling?
- 8 Interior Design Trends for 2021
- 10 Online Courses to Create Your Own Furniture From Scratch

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