Bobbin Furniture: The Timely Rebirth of a Look That Proves Less Isn’t Always More
The bulbous charm of coil furniture is enjoying a timely revival, says Giles Kime.
Carefully considered simplicity is surprisingly hard work. The process of distilling the necessities of function so that they disappear into a haze of clean lines requires a designer with the skills of Sir Jonathan Ive, the visionary creator of the iPhone. Applied to furniture and enlivened by beautiful materials with texture and depth of color, such as bronze, marble and wood, it is a very alluring combination. And yet, in droves, it can be extremely boring, like a modernist hotel or an airport lounge (remember that?).
After a decade or two dominated by a clean design, less is more, crafted for an inch of a lifetime, there is something refreshing about the exuberant shapes and textures of objects that celebrate the materiality of bold forms, often made by hand. It is a quality explored in Design secrets (Â£ 25, Hardie Grant) a brilliant new book from British craft cheerleader Kit Kemp, whose hotels in London and New York eloquently express how the handmade can add depth and meaning to an interior. From Pippa Caley’s exquisite embroidered headboards to the collection of 52 hanging baskets above the Whitby bar in midtown Manhattan, the pieces prove that she is a designer who relishes strong forms.
This new love of decorative sturdiness could explain the revival of coil furniture, also known as coil furniture in the United States (not to be confused with furniture made from recycled cable reels). Originally the work of the bodgers, the itinerant woodturners who made decorative chair legs in woodworking shops, coil-style furniture was extremely popular in 17th-century Europe and later in the United States, where mechanical lathes transformed the arduous process. The latter gave birth to a taste not only for chairs, but also for tables, shelves, bed frames, cradles and mirrors with the same pleasantly artisanal charm as fretwork.
Vaughan Designs’ new Broughton chair is a new addition to the proliferating choice of coil furniture, demonstrating the endless possibilities of the style’s striking profile. Another early adopter is Julian Chichester, whose line includes beds, chairs and benches, fueling the growing demand for this attractive style of furniture. Look for others, including Alfred Newall, whose capsule collection of coil furniture has a contemporary, crisp twist.
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Credit: Rothschild & Bickers
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