A Tribute to Iconic Furniture Designers
Particular design styles wouldn’t exist without the designers behind each movement. The past century has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of notable furniture designers, people who have been at the forefront of design trends, or who have fashioned their own unique styles. This is our tribute to these international and Australian designers.
Here at Brosa, we love to celebrate furniture designers. Not only do they push the boundaries on furniture design and production, they use their considerable expertise to create top quality pieces known for their craftsmanship, strength and durability. As a result, designer furniture pieces can be – and often are – considered works of art.
Why have we created this resource? Because we want to give furniture designers (including ours) their due respect. Furniture designers toil hard to create new designs and innovations. Their efforts are rewarded when their designs – their intellectual property – are embraced and respected by the community.
Australian furniture designers make us proud by enriching our local art culture. Their original pieces are designed with top-quality craftsmanship and are made to last. But it’s not just the quality of a designer piece we’re interested in. Australian furniture designers rely on their authentic pieces for their income, while purchasers can expect an appreciation in the value of their furniture.
Buy from local designers, and you’re investing in the future of the local design community. You’re protecting their intellectual property. And more often than not, you’re also investing in a particular set of values, whether they are using organic or eco-friendly materials or engaging in local production.
Support and interest in the industry translate into more innovation and increased production. And we’re all better off for that. So to honour furniture designers, we’ve include a list of some of the most renowned designers in the industry, from overseas as well as at home. These designers’ unique styles inspire many contemporary furniture designers, which you’ll see in the designer furniture you’ll find at Brosa.
Click on the iconic designer below to find out more about their work and how they have contributed to the designer furniture industry.
International Furniture Designers
Australian Furniture Designers
International Furniture Designers
Mies van der Rohe1886-1969
Mies van der Rohe (born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies) made his mark as one of the 20th century’s most celebrated architects, thanks to his dedication to quality craftsmanship.
Mies’s furniture often blended luxury fabrics, such as leather, with chrome frames. We have him to thank for his cantilevered steel Barcelona chair and table. His other famous furniture pieces include the Brno chair and the Tugendhat chair.
Mies was the third and last Bauhaus art school director.
Le Corbusier – née Charles-Édouard Jeanneret – is considered a pioneer of modern architecture. His trademark furniture designs include sculpted, chrome-plated chairs that are both functional and modern.
The Swiss-born designer’s bold furniture was created for mass, industrial production. Among his most popular pieces of furniture were the “Grand Confort” and the LC4 chaise lounge.
In 1964, Cassina S.p.A of Milan gained the sole rights to manufacture his furniture designs, and it exercises this exclusive authority to this day (although many replicas exist elsewhere).
Find pieces inspired by Le Corbusier in our designer sofas collection.
LC4 Chaise Lounge
Danish-born designer Arne Jacobsen is renowned for his Scandinavian-styled furniture. His inspiration came from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, among others.
His chairs combined functional and minimalist designs with quality craftsmanship. His springy-backed three-legged Ant chair (1951) sold in the millions, making it one of the most commercially successful chairs to date. Meanwhile, his Egg and Swan chairs still remain some of the most recognisable pieces from the mid-century modern design style.
Jacobsen was also a distinguished architect. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Hans Wegner is another Danish mid-century modern designer who embraced modernist, functional furniture styles. First employed by Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, he later when on to establish his own studio.
By the end of his career, Wegner had created more than 500 chairs. His style is renowned for combining a variety of natural materials. His “Round” chair (1949) is one of his most famous works – so popular, in fact, that is commonly simply called “The Chair”.
Find pieces inspired by Hans Wegner in our designer dining chair collection.
Papa Bear Chair
Philippe Starck is a French designer who has produced remarkable designs across all manner of fields, from interiors to product design.
Starck’s product designs are known for their fluid form and subtle details. Starck strives to create democratic designs that are available to the masses. For this reason, his products are often mass-produced at affordable prices.
Starck designed the world’s first polycarbonate chair, the La Marie Chair. Other famous works include the Dr No Chair and the translucent Louis Ghost Chair, of which more than 1 million have been sold.
Le Marie Chair, Kartell
Dr No Chair
Louis Ghost Chair
Australian Furniture Designers
Douglas Burrage Snelling was an esteemed Australian architect and furniture designer (although technically, he was a British-born, Kiwi expat).
Snelling always had a way with design, opening his own graphic arts and show window design business as a teenager. In the 1940s, he moved to Sydney and opened a furniture and show windows business.
His chairs became icons of Australian furniture design with their parachute webbing and modernist features. In fact, they were Australia’s first real mass-produced furniture range in the mid-20th century. Among his most famous pieces are the Snelling chair and footstool.
Douglas Snelling Chair
Douglas Snelling Footstool
Grant Featherston is arguably Australia’s most well-known furniture designer, having spent his life creating furniture pieces. Many of his designs are now considered collectables and collect high prices at auction. They’re also the basis for many furniture replicas on the market today.
A self-taught designer from Geelong, Featherston’s most famous pieces include the modernist Contour chairs of the 1950s. The chairs were made of single pieces of flexible plywood bent into shape without losing their strength. They were beloved for the way they were shaped to the contours of a human body.
Other works included the Scape chair, the Delma chair, the Stem chair and the Obo chair, some of which were create in partnership with his wife, Mary Featherston.
Find pieces inspired by Grant Featherston in our designer armchair collection.
Roger McLay was an early Australian designer. He experimented with all manner of materials, from steel and aluminium to glass, wood and concrete.
Born in Sydney, McLay began his career as a 15-year-old artist apprentice at greeting card manufacturers John Sands. At the same time, he learnt his trade at an Australian technical college – one of the first to do so. After WWII, he began work as a freelance designer and talented in both designing and constructing his pieces.
His most notable piece of work, the Kone chair (1948), became a classic furniture design from post-war Australia. It was made of shaped plywood and metal. The chair was put into limited production by McLay’s own Gloucester Street studio, but was so successful it later entered commercial production.
Marc NewsonBorn: 1963
Marc Newson is an internationally-celebrated Australian designer who has worked in everything from furniture design to commercial aircraft design.
He graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts in 1984, and was awarded a grant from the Australian Crafts Council to stage his first exhibition. It was this exhibition that propelled him into international attention and continued to set records even years later.
Now based in London, Newson has received numerous awards and distinctions, including a CBE. His works have set numerous auction records. In 2005, he was listed in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
This prolific designer has items featuring in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Design Museum and V&A, the Vitra Design Musem and the Centre Georges Pompidou. His work collectively accounts for almost 25% of all items in the contemporary design art market.
Newson’s designed are notable for their smooth geometric lines and curved edges, reflecting organic shapes of nature. Among his pieces are the Embryo chair, the Lockheed Lounge and the Chop Top table.
Today, Newson is an adjunct professor at the Sydney College of the Arts and the creative director for Qantas.
Johnny Chamaki is an award-winning designer with a studio in Sydney. Chamaki showed promise for art and design when he began selling artworks to his friends’ parents at just 10 years old.
Fascinated by plants, Chamaki’s contemporary works are inspired by nature and unique geographical locations. One of his most famous furniture design ranges, the Outlaw Series, borrows heavily from Ned Kelly symbolism and folklore.
In 2002, Chamaki established the Chamaki Design Studio, focusing on furniture, objects, interiors and architecture. In 2008, he was recognised as the International Designer of the Year by Vogue, Germany and Shogun, Japan.