There comes a point in every man’s life where he looks around his home and realizes that almost all of his furniture is from Ikea, or worse yet, is a Salvation Army holdover from his college days. Let’s call it a coming of later age moment.
Look, Ikea is great. They have everything you need to outfit an apartment or house. When you’re in your transient years, moving every 12-24 months, it’s perfect because the furniture is cheap enough that you don’t mind leaving it behind when your lease is up. The quality is such that it probably wouldn’t last much beyond that anyway. Plus there’s the fact that the stuff has funny names which are conducive to pranking your girlfriend and there’s meatballs, which provide an opportunity to show off your Swedish chef impersonation.
But too many Poang chairs and Billy bookcases also result in a bland and generic home. (In extreme cases, it leads you to co-found a fight club and attempt to blow up all the credit card companies.) Your choice of furniture is as much a reflection of your personality and level of taste as the clothes you wear, perhaps even more so. It’s easy to swap out a pair of sneakers after a few months. A couch, not so much.
Also, a man needs his chair. Your dad had one, your grandfather did too. Wherever you live, there should be a chair that is distinctly yours, where you don’t have to call “Fives!” every time you get up to grab a beer from the fridge. It becomes a sanctuary of sorts, a place to quietly read or boisterously watch sports. It also makes a positive impression, showing visitors (incuding the overnight ones) that you didn’t go with a paint-by-numbers or a path-of-least-resistance approach to outfitting your crib.
A good chair can be expensive, but it’s important to think of it as an investment. You want to buy something that you will own for decades, not months. These are the kind of chairs that you age alongside of, and the patina that comes with all that wear only deepens the connection you feel to the object. With clothes, we tend to justify expensive purchases with the “cost per wear” formula. If you apply that to a good chair, the “cost per sit” equation will very quickly work its way down to fractions of a penny.
We found 8 chairs that are worth all those penny fractions and will instantly add distinction to any man’s home.
1. STEPHEN KENN INHERITANCE COLLECTION ARMCHAIR
Stephen Kenn’s Inheritance Collection of furniture can quite literally be passed down from generation to generation. The designer found a warehouse in East Los Angeles filled with old World War II era military fabrics and used it to create the covers for the cushions of this armchair, which attach to the welded steel frame with leather straps. Since launching the collection, Kenn has gone on to design the cushions using indigo-dyed fabric and leather, but the utility of the original military fabric is still tough to beat.
2. EAMES MOLDED PLYWOOD LOUNGE CHAIR
The late husband-and-wife duo of Charles and Ray Eames are the godfather (and godmother) of midcentury modern design. Among their many accomplishments is showing that a chair made of plywood—yes, plywood—could be beautiful, comfortable, and functional. This chair was called the Best Design of the 20th Century by Time magazine and the way that it works with the ergonomics of the human body is nothing short of remarkable. You can lounge on this thing for hours without feeling like you’re sitting on a hard surface.
3. CASE STUDY ARM SHELL ROCKER
Proof that the rocking chair isn’t just for old men sitting on the porch whittling wood trinkets, the Case Study fiberglass shell chair is another standout of midcentury design. It combines three materials—the fiberglass seat, metal wire legs, and wooden rockers—in perfect proportion and is available in an incredible array of 36 colors, so you can easily find one that suits your personal style.
4. THE FUTURE PERFECT PASHA
Once you take a seat in the ultra modern Pasha armchair, you are not going to want to get up. The deep seat, which was designed by Konstantin Grcic, looks like a ski jump from the side and envelops you with its relaxed and comfortable geometry. You will nap in this. Both the base and the cushions are upholstered with textured wool in different shades of grey that reveal how the color can be anything but boring.
5. THE CITIZENRY PALERMO
The butterfly chair is certainly a dorm room staple, but when it’s crafted with exquisite materials it becomes elevated to a new level. The cover for this chair is made in Argentina from vegetable tanned leather that is traditionally used for making saddles. Over time, the leather breaks in wonderfully, taking on creases and fades like the ones you see in a great motorcycle jacket or a pair of blue jeans.
6. ARTICLE SVEN
The Sven looks like it belongs in the lobby of an upscale private club or in Don Draper’s apartment. With formidable arms and luxurious velvet upholstery, it’s the ideal chair for kicking back with a glass of whiskey.
7. TRNK ROD AND WEAVE
Thoughtful craftsmanship and minimal design meet in this chair from designer Eric Trine. Consisting of a simple iron frame covered in woven, vegetable leather straps, it positions a user at an angle where he can’t help but relax. Much like the Palermo, the straps will age beautifully and take on a terrific patina the more you use it.
8. WASSILY CHAIR
From $1,903, dwr.com
Hungarian designer Marcel Breuer is believed to be the first person to construct a chair using bent steel tubes, a stark departure from the wood furniture that had been the norm prior to the 1920s. Even though the design is nearly 100 years old, the Wassily chair, named for abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky, still looks like the height of modernity, especially when the steel frame is covered in unique cowhide.