Thursday, June 28, 2007

Low to High: Egg Chairs

I've been noticing a lot of furniture "inspired by" the classics lately -- everything from subtle homages to straight-up ripoffs -- as well as some very similar styles in non-trademarked designs that are available at a startlingly wide range of price points.

So I'm trying out a new blog feature called "Low to High" that will compare the high-end designs and the knockoffs side-by-side. (Please feel free to alert me to other examples, and to share your thoughts on buying high vs. low -- and the quality and aesthetic compromises that entails.)

Here, we have Arne Jacobsen's iconic 1958 Egg Chair. Well-preserved originals and authorized reproductions, which are made from the original plans and often by the same manufacturer at the same factory as the real deal, command several thousand dollars. Unauthorized reproductions are a bit less, but probably don't quite measure up in terms of quality of construction and materials, as well as investment value. Finally, there are the pieces that are clearly modeled on the original, but that sell for a fraction of the cost -- and often offer a fraction of the quality and long-term value.

To wit:

Top to bottom and left to right: IKEA Karstad Swivel Chair, about $490; Commander Swivel Chair, $499, from EQ3; "Bolero" Egg Chair Reproduction, $1,150, from Modern Furniture Classics; Egg Chair in wool, $4,892, from Hive Modern; Egg Chair in leather, $10,680, from Design Within Reach

Clearly, DWR's authorized leather Egg is the best-looking of the bunch, and will likely retain its value in the long run. But is it $10K worth of better looking? I guess that depends on your standards -- and your bank balance. Hive Modern's wool version -- which is also manufactured in Denmark by Fritz Hansen, the maker of the original Egg -- is equally swanky. The Bolero looks OK, but I don't think I'd spend more than a grand on a chair whose provenance and authenticity was a little murky. EQ3's polyester-covered Commander just looks a bit saggy, sad, and shabby in comparison to the others.

Personally, I think the IKEA Karlstad is a fine-looking chair at a reasonable price, and it's upholstered in real wool. (This chair is currently available only in the United Kingdom, but I'm hoping it hits these shores soon.) Of course, being from IKEA, I know that it will probably fall apart in a few years. Maybe someday I'll be in more of a position to choose "investment pieces." But for now, that's my pick.

What's yours?


Gypsy Purple said...

What a nice blog you have....saw it on Pink Mohair
I`m glad I came to visit

Anonymous said...

"Clearly, DWR's authorized leather Egg is the best-looking of the bunch." Um, yeah. Personally I thought the leather egg shair came dead-last style-wise.

Leah said...

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, Anonymous. But if you're going to be snarky about it, at least have the guts to sign your name.


trendoffice said...

The "Egg" is one of my favourate designs, but...having in mind the fact that they are probably almost equally comfortable, and that the price of the IKEA chair is more than twice cheaper - what can one say? That is why they are so popular all over the world.

trendoffice said...

p.sp. A great idea to start this comparison. I hate immitations, but in this case we can hardly use this word.


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