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We Saw, We Liked: Vintage Interiors by Furniture Designers

Posted by George Sims on

Karl Lagerfeld Memphis

If you have spent any amount of time scouring the internet for the perfect look for your home then you’ll know how easy it is to get hopelessly lost in the endless warren of links. 

You might start looking for a pink chair but before you know it, you’re poking around in Gianni Versace’s pool house.

(We would say we don’t mean this literally but we think that’d be a pretty cool experience so if that’s where your journey takes you then you have our backing).

We started this piece with the intention of creating a list of furniture designers who had really great homes of their own.

But, true to form, we were already violently off topic after just an hour or two’s research.

So rather than try and force the issue, we figured we’d simply chart our latest course through the choppy waters of interiors inspiration. 

Here are the stops we took on our trip from Charlotte Perriand to Karl Lagerfeld. 

Charlotte Perriand Miami Beach House

La Maison au Bord de l'Eau - Charlotte Perriand, 1934

It’s not what we were searching for when we entered her name but this is a solid find that held our attention.

Recently built by Louis Vuitton (the fashion house, not the man) some 80-odd years after the French architect and designer had finished the drawings (1934), this Miami beach hut shows what can achieved in a small space. 

What we really liked is the ply panelling (this won’t come as a surprise if you’ve ever set foot in our London vintage furniture showroom) and how the grain is set against pops of solid colour. 

We reckon this look is somehow relevant and timeless all at once.

We also love how uncomplicated the sleeping arrangement is. Life by the beach is supposed to be straightforward.

Colourful Le Corbusier flat

Unité d’Habitation, Berlin - Le Corbusier, 1958

The path from Perriand to Le Corbusier is well-trodden and our second find is a very natural progression, sharing, as it does, much of the same design language.

This flat, in the Le Corbusier building in Berlin, has been painstakingly restored to the exact, original specification. 

If you don’t know the idea behind this concept, it was supposed to represent a modern way of living where the house and the products in it were machines to facilitate. 

The apartments were sold furnished so all you needed to do was bring your belongings.

Like we said, you’ll see a lot of the same qualities as the beach house but this theme feels more authentic and maybe even a bit more exciting.

Furthermore, this look would be fairly easy to achieve on a relatively small budget.

All you really need is a lick of paint and some quality mid century furniture and you’re halfway there. 

Ettore Sottsass Esprit store

Esprit Concept Store, Köln - Ettore Sottsass, 1987

The link between the next two designers on our list is less clear and to be honest we’re not entirely sure how we got from one to the other. 

However, we have since seen quotes from Sottsass, father of the Memphis Milano movement, citing Le Corbusier as an architect he admired (“functionalism with a mediterranean touch”) so maybe that was it. 

Regardless, this one is off the charts amazing.

Yes, it aged quickly, and we may sour on it at the same pace, but there is no denying this looks so relevant right now (incidentally the Esprit history also reads like the thinking behind many of the most successful advertising campaigns of the last five years).

Playful design elements, pops of colour, pattern clashing—it’s all in here and we love it dearly.

The pink and terrazzo effect can easily be added to most homes, making it a low-risk place to start if you are keen to recreate this look but don’t know where to begin.

Karl Lagerferld Memphis Milano home

Monte Carlo Residence - Karl Lagerfeld, 1983

If you’ve been paying attention, you might be tempted to interject and say that, while you accept this article acknowledges how meandering our research was, we were supposed to be focusing on furniture designers.

Well, if that was you, you can pipe down. Lagerfeld did that too—and it’s bang on-trend right now. 

This theme is, appropriately enough, all about the furniture. This means it’s also about Sottsass because it’s almost exclusively Memphis (note, the boxing ring was actually by Masanori Umeda).

It’s a good example of how to incorporate these playful design elements.

The key to this look is that they are set against an almost monochromatic background. This directs your focus and stops the theme from becoming overwhelming.

Not the only way to do it but it minimises the chances of getting a complete overhaul in this mode very, very wrong.  


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