Grand Repos ~ Trail of the Classic Lounge Chair

As the Director of B&B Italia’s Maxalto range, Antonio Citterio had proven his worth and design mastery. Nevertheless, even the Maestro said, “Developing a new chair for Vitra in the wake of a masterpiece like the Eames Lounge Chair was a unique challenge.” His new masterpiece, the Grand Repos and Repos braves the wake of the traditional classic lounge chair that still holds their immerse popularity, especially the Eames Lounge Chair. One can only imagine the mountain high challenge for Antonio Citteria to develop the classic lounge chair concept further on a new level for Vitra, the brand that manufactures authentic Eames Lounge Chairs, the defacto standard for classic lounge chairs.

Grand Repos with Ottoman.

Smaller Brother of Grand Repos, the Repos.

Although Antonio Citterio had been notably mainly working with B&B Italia, even heading the Maxalto range, he is no stranger to Vitra. He had in fact being working with Vitra regularly for 25 years to create pioneering office chair designs with Vitra. Antonio Citterio now puts to use, his experience in creating dynamic and healthy seating to the Living Room. The Grand Repos premieres in 2011.

Grand Repos designed by Antonio Citterio for Vitra in 2011.

The Grand Repos is inviting. Having generous padding, nicely positioned armrests and a high wingback,  it features a step-less biomechanical optimized movement to allow adjustable sitting positions to meet almost all demands of comfortable reading and relaxing seating. Although I had not seen this lounge chair in metal (just a simple pic in the magazine captures my attention), I find it “comfortable” to sit in. What I mean is that it looks very inviting as what Antonio Citterio wanted it to be. As I search for more pictures on Vitra’s website and looked at this beautiful lounge chair, I could not help but draw reference from Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair for Fritz Hansen. Actually, I did not realise the large similarities until I saw the picture of a man sitting on the Grand Repos. It reminded me of the comfort and sitting position when I sat in the Egg Chair. The placement of the armrests and the winged headrests tells it all.

The Grand Repos from Vitra’s Gallery.

Believe it or not, the familiar silhouette of the Grand Repos actually triggered me to start looking at the Egg Chair as an alternative to the Grand Repos. It should be the other way round! This is actually caused by the following thoughts: Space Asia Hub was having its mid-year sale last month and the Egg Chair was going for less than S$8,000 with Ottoman all thrown in. Although I had not checked out the price tag, I would expect the Grand Repos to be priced at above S$10,000 without the Ottoman.

Being a classic, it is ironic that the Egg Chair suddenly became an attractive option because of its price. In my opinion, I would say, the Grand Repos had succeeded in coming out of the shadows of Modern Classic Lounge Chairs and stand on its own.

Some Chairs are better in Fabric than Leather. The Grand Repos is One such Chair.

Well, I am not saying that the Grand Repos outshines the Eames Lounge chair or the Egg Chair. But being such a common place and with replicas flooding the market, the Modern Classics had become somewhat less refreshing than the Grand Repos. Objectively, I would say that they stand on the same level of appeal and originality. If you tried sitting on the originals, the Eames Lounge Chair would have won hands down for its comfort (the cushions of the replicas are hard); the Egg Chair, for its sculptural form; while the Grand Repos appeals with its refreshing originality and being less common than the classics.


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