Landscape ~ Poetry of the Line

It’s been a while since I last posted about design pieces. For the last 19 posts, I had been talking about last year’s Milan Fair, design themes and techniques as well as my recent finding of my home. Since my last post, I had restarted blogging on designer pieces again. Well, I couldn’t believe the coincidence as I was writing this. I started this blog and the first post on a piece of furniture was a Modern Classic Chaise Longue, the Eames La Chaise. My last topic on furnishing, before I went on 19 posts without a single topic on designer piece, is on the Zanotta Lama. This, by all mean, is also on a Chaise Longue. In the restarting of my post on furniture (my last post), I had talked about the LC4 CP, which is a Modern Classic Chaise Longue that had been injected with new inspiration from the fashion world. I guess, my passion for Chaise Longues was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In case you had been wondering whether I had mis-spelled the word “Longue”, I had not. “Longue” is French for “Lounge”. Many English speakers had commonly mispronounced the word “Chaise Longue” as “Chase Lounge”. The right way to pronouce this is “Shayz Long” which literally means “Long Chair”. I would say, I had an affinity with Chaise Longue, commonly shortened as a Chaise. This is the one piece of furniture that got me into this passion of design. The Chaise was my first love for furniture and as you would had guessed, one inevitably found its way into my first home. It was something that I insisted on getting despite my wife being skeptical about its usefulness. It was a non-designer piece that cost me SGD$399 (expensive in those days for a young couple whom had bought their first home). I am happy to say that it wasn’t any knock offs and its an original design. 🙂 Don’t laugh, but my first chaise felt reminiscence of the B&B Italia Tulip Chair “unrolled” into a chaise curve with all the thick padding.

My First Chaise and Tulip ChairMy first Chaise Longue. The thick padding reminded me of the B&B Italia Tulip Chair.

You may be wondering why all the craze about a Chaise, especially when you Google it only to find plenty of pictures of a sofa looking long chair like the one below.

Classic Chaise LongueA Classic Chaise Longue, not the one that Inspired me. 🙂 (Picture from Hampshire Barn Interiors)

Well, I would say that my love for the Chaise is not the classic chaise that you see. I would say that the pioneer of the curvy chaise is the Le Corbusier’s LC4. But this is not “The Chaise” that got me into the passion. It was the Contemporary re-interpretation of the LC4 itself that got me all interested. This wonder piece is non-other than the B&B Italia Landscape. When I first saw the B&B Italia Landscape on a local magazine, I was in awe (both by the design and the pricing). The lines were so minimalistic and simple, yet, it conveyed such an elegant poise to the setting of the room. The Landscape had an extremely thin profile with its thin padding and appear floating above the ground, especially when placed on a thick carpet that had its furs hiding the sledge bases. Jeffrey Bernett calls this, the “poetry of the line”. I totally agree with him on this. It is this poetry of the line that the Landscape Chaise Longue captivated me.

B&B Italia Landscape 12The Original B&B Italia Landscape Chaise and the 2011 10th Anniversary Edition with the Topper-Mattress (Picture from Style Park Web Page)

Designed in 2001 and updated twice, once in 2005 and another time in 2011, the updated Landscape Chaise Longue may look subtlely different. But it had quite different performance and functions. I will go into it in a moment. I would like to share the story and inspirations for this beautiful chaise. In an interview with Metropolis Magazine, Jeffrey Bernett shared that his first glance into the design world was the Le Corbusier LC4 even though he is not aware of who Le Corbusier was at that time. It was the “elegance, beauty, and poetry of industrial design” that caught his attention. Isn’t it interesting that a decade later, his re-interpretation of the very Chaise that inspired him got me into the design bug. 🙂

cassina-lc4-3-with-3-mastersJeffrey Bernett’s first Designer Piece and first Chaise, the Le Corbusier LC4.

Years after Jeffrey Bernett bought his first Chaise, B&B Italia approached him to work on the Tulip Chair and the chair was launched in 2000. Satisfied with the results, B&B Italia got Bernett to work on a chaise, which was missing from the B&B staple. Back then, Gorla, Head of Development and Research for B&B Italia, set the bar for Bernett by reminding him that Ludwig Mies van de Rohe, Charles & Ray Eames and Le Corbusier all did Chaises. With the bar set so high, Bernett turned back to the person who inspired him with the chaise, Le Corbusier. Bernett “wanted in some way to reference Le Corbusier without being too literal”. This also led Bernett to visit Le Corbusier’s architecture to look at the poetry of his chapel in Ronchamp. Bernett was hit by the elegance of the Chapel’s roof line and that, formed the initial inspiration for the curves and shape of Landscape.

Ronchamp ChapelThe Ronchamp Chapel Roof Line that Inspired Jeffrey Bernett to create the Landscape (Picture from Architectural Digest).

In the interview, Bernett shared the creative process that gave birth to the Landscape. Bernett describes it as “an interesting chess game” between his Studio and B&B Italia. Bernett shared this interesting process:

‘Design really is a Rubik’s Cube. It’s easy to get one side all in one color, but the goal is to get all of the sides right. Each choice closes off a host of other choices. The decisions you make early on often define and/or further eliminate later decisions. Landscape’s success is, to some extent, based on evading that narrowing of focus — on taking the design in new directions with each iteration.’

B&B Italia Landscape 15The Steel Frame of the Landscape Longue (Picture from Metropolis Magazine)

Bernett further shared in the interview that the Landscape is not just form and about nothing but the “poetry of the line”:

‘Built into the original concept is the idea of the self-limiting nap. Since there are no armrests, it’s difficult to doze for more than ten or 20 minutes in a Landscape chair; as your sleep deepens, your arm drops to the side, interrupting your nap. From a visual standpoint, the lack of armrests made for a simple, austere silhouette, so Bernett knew the piece would have to be rigorously engineered.’

Interestingly, the influences to the design of Landscape encompasses abstraction (Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc Sculpture that guided the initial shape of the Landscape and Joseph Beuys’ emotional resonance of the use of felt, the Kvadrat Industrial felt upholstery selected by Bernett), architecture (Ronchamp Chapel’s Roof) and design (Le Corbusier’s LC4). In Bernett’s words, These influences are “linked and connected seamlessly, all together. The best of the best in any creative field is always both a mirror and a preview of what’s to come.”. A lot of thoughts had also been put into the head rest design. Magnets were added to allow the headrests to slide in any position along the magnetic strips to customise for a perfect posture for any user. To maintain the light and pure design of the Landscape, work had been put in to obtain the best balance between thickness and comfort. The result was the Landscape Chaise Longue launched in 2001.

B&B Italia Landscape 4B&B Italia Landscape 3 B&B Italia Landscape 2The Result: B&B Italia Landscape Upholstered in Jeffrey Bernett’s preferred Felt (Pictures from B&B Italia Web page)

B&B Italia Landscape 7

B&B Italia Landscape 11B&B Italia Landscape Chaise Longue in Leather (Pictures from 1stdibs)

A few years down the road, Bernett evolved his thinking in a different direction when B&B Italia and himself thought of an update to the Landscape. Interestingly, the original design was meant to perform as a self-limiting nap Chaise which omitted a space for the arms to rest on comfortably. Bernett took a deviation and added an asymmetrical armrest on the right side of the Landscape. This design change broke the simple and elegant line of the Landscape Chaise and its original intended function. Bernett’s idea was an evolution in a product lifecycle development. This upgrade was seen as a need to address the need for different seating positions. With an additional armrest, the Landscape 05 Chaise, as B&B had dubbed it to differentiate it from the original design in 2001, would enable the user to rest on a side and had his/her arm supported by the armrest to hold a book or newspaper. It allows the user to use the Landscape Chaise over a longer period of time. The result was a success.

B&B Italia Landscape 6B&B Italia Landscape 8 B&B Italia Landscape 10

B&B Italia Landscape 9Version Updated: Landscape 05 (Pictures from B&B Italia Web page)

B&B Italia Landscape 16Jeffrey Bernett Showing the Other Possible Usages of the Landscape 05 (Picture from B&B Italia Web page Video).

In 2011, B&B Italia approached Bernett to explore possible grounds for a 10th Anniversary update to the iconic chaise. This time, Bernett thought of the familiar, old rocking motion that was inspired by the experience of dozing off in a hammock. Bernett modified the sledge legs into a pair of curved legs. These curved legs interestingly, complemented the curve of the Landscape Chaise rather than break it as with the Landscape 05. Bernett also developed an add-on quilted topper mattress that comes in a nice box made by Kvadrat. The mattress design was derived from a “Scandinavian bed design—an element of luxury that offsets the austerity of the Landscape silhouette”. With the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Landscape having no arm rests, the topper mattress could be retro-fitted onto the original Landscape Chaise.

B&B Italia Landscape 5 B&B Italia Landscape 13The 10th Anniversary Edition Rocking Landscape comes with a Topper Mattress. You can choose to put it on or leave it like the Original (Pictures from B&B Italia Web page)

The interviewer rounded off the interview with an interesting question: Does Bernett have a favorite of the three Landscape designs?

B&B Italia Landscape 14Jeffrey Bernett all smiles on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Landscape. But, is this his favourite? (Picture from Vanity Fair)

His response? “I like them all equally, but the newest version represents the biggest challenge and thus the best success.” But, he adds, “at the studio, we have the 2001 version hung on the wall.” So, its your guess which is his favourite. 🙂

Have a look at the B&B Italia video where Jeffrey Bernett talked about the creation of the B&B Italia Landscape.

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