That old barcalounger, so comfortable, so ugly. That Frank Lloyd Wright chair, so beautiful, so back spasm inducing. It doesn’t have to be this way. And, thank god, it isn’t anymore. The cutting edge designers have gotten the comfort memo and the more accessible brands have stepped up with clean lines and luxurious materials. And now they know you care enough to purchase your own furniture instead of pawning it off on some decorator-huckster so there are plenty of offerings in what’s been the coolest material since Marlon Brando first rebelled against anything the man had: leather. The bottom line is that you no longer need to choose between form and function or sacrifice cool for comfort.
1950s Copenhagen Chair Hair-On-Hide Front
$1,435, Restoration Hardware
An update of the seminal Swan chair—designed in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen to allow guests at the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen to spin 360 degrees on a swivel base, spurring conversations and creating the lively hotel lobby scenes we’re familiar with today—this version adds luxurious materials to the mix. Since the leather on the back is hand distressed and hair-on hide on the front is natural, no two chairs are exactly alike. The brushed aluminum bases still swivels too, so now you just need to take the hotel lobby after party home with you.
$1,299, Blu Dot
You’ll literally be hanging in style in this sling chair. And like the choice about when to start drinking, you can choose between day (natural leather sling with white-stained, solid beech frame), and night (black-tanned leather sling with black-stained, solid beech frame). So as Blu Dot says about it’s own saddle leather seat: “Olé, motherf#¢!×r.”
1938 Leather Butterfly Chair
This updated classic is inspired by one of the most imitated designs of all time: the “198 Hardoy Chair,” aka the “Butterfly,” designed in 1938 and a favorite of dorm rooms ever since. But instead of crappy fabrics on collapsible hairpin frames, this take offers hand-stitched rich-grain saddle leather hides on a tubular iron frames that don’t fold—so buy a few and have a poker game.
Juno Leather Recliner
$2,299, Room & Board
The Hugh Hefner of modernist furniture design, Vladimir Kagan is still putting in work at 87. Boasting a custom client list that has included Marilyn Monroe and Gary Cooper, Kagan has stayed relevant furnishing Gucci stores around the globe, masterminding the lobby for the Standard Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles, and offering his take on the martini glass for Bombay Sapphire. Looking like a less laissez-faire Lay-Z-Boy, this sculptural recliner captures his signature organic style and then wraps it in the company’s thick, buttery Bison leather.
All-Black Eames Lounge and Ottoman
$5,789, Design Within Reach
This signature design by husband-and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames may be the most famous chair of all time. And also the most ubiquitous, having been in continuous production by Herman Miller since it was first released in 1956. That’s why the first-ever all-black model is so badass. The leather has stayed the same but the iconic molded plywood frame is now veneered in ebony-stained ash. Let’s call it the Johnny Cash.
$10,400, Centro Studi Poltronova
With the fall classic approaching, it’s time to revisit the one unadulterated throwback in the group, the Bunker-era Joe. A 1970 Italian tribute to Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, this American Pop–style masterpiece is still handmade to order in Florence with full-grain leather from Scandinavian cattle. But it probably won’t be killing your cave until next season at this point: the surprisingly comfortable ergonomic armchair takes 3 weeks to stitch and mount on 4 hidden wheels.
$10,887, B&B Italia
A seamless fusion of futurism and philosophy, design firm Doshi Levien’s tribute to the Indian region that offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas is meant to envelope like soft blanket. The womb-like armchair is topped with a shearling-upholstered curved oak headrest that’s inserted into the chair back, giving the impression of being slightly detached—just like you will as soon as you take a seat.
Though named after the Caribbean liqueur made from coffee and rum as an allusion to it dual natures of formal and informal, symmetrical and asymmetrical, angular and curvaceousness—the moniker also sticks because of the richness of the leather used here. Though created by up-and-coming Milan-based modernist designer Enrico Franzolini, who began his career as an artist, this lounger is all business.
Halfway between a classic bergère and the “pop art” armchairs of the 1960’s, is this curvy work by Ferruccio Laviani, known for his worldwide work for those irrepressible purveyors of Italian style, Dolce & Gabbana. The leather cover of this sleek fixed-swivel armchair’s is both fully removable and fire resistant—therefore irresistible for a party pad.
$4,630, Poltrona Frau
First designed by the famed Architetti Associati in 1959, this archetypal curved wood chair has been revisited with comfort in mind. The original glued laminated timber is now Canaletto walnut and the upholstery is the company’s trademark ultrasoft Pelle Frau leather. Though it can be purchased with a matching games table, this timeless design isn’t playing around.