As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to appreciate the importance of investing in good design; I’d far rather save up for a classic piece that I’ll enjoy every day for years to come, than rush into buying cheaper items which won’t stand the test of time. In conjunction with contemporary furniture retailer Nest, here are five reasons why I think design classics are worth the spend – and why they aren’t restricted to those with deep pockets…
1. They’re timeless
Design classics have become classics for a reason – they don’t date. Some of the most iconic pieces on the market today were developed in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties – and Mies van der Rohe’s famous ‘Barcelona’ chair dates back as far as the 1920s – but they look just as stylish nowadays as they did when they first appeared. They also tend to fit seamlessly into almost any interior scheme (industrial, rustic, minimal), so they don’t become redundant when you move home or your tastes change.
Above: Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona’ chair and ottoman, and Eero Saarinen’s ‘Tulip’ side table. Top image: Carl Hansen’s ‘CH07 Shell’ chair
2. They combine form and function
But classics don’t just stand the test of time because of the way they look: they’re highly functional, too. Many took years to develop (five, in the case of Eero Saarinen’s ‘Tulip’ table), with numerous prototypes being used to refine every detail – from a seat back angled to ensure maximum comfort, to legs set at the perfect height for dining.
Above: Muuto’s ‘Oslo’ chair
3. They’re built to last
Authentic designs are carefully crafted using top-quality materials, and will last for decades. They also tend to age gracefully, developing beautiful patinas over time, and will hold their value (or even increase in worth, if you’re lucky).
Above: Gubi’s ‘Beetle’ chairs and ‘Rectangular’ dining table
It might be tempting to buy cheap copies, but don’t give in to the allure of fakes – they’re badly made, and you’ll likely end up replacing them within a few years. What’s more, following moves to close a loophole in copyright law, it will soon become illegal to make or sell knock-offs of design classics in the UK. To ensure you get an authentic piece shop at a retailer like Nest, which only sells originals that bear the maker’s mark.
Above: Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Swan’ chair
4. They don’t have to be expensive
True, many designer pieces don’t come cheap (you’d need to fork out thousands of pounds for an ‘Arco’ floor lamp, Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Swan’ chair or an Eames lounge chair), but you certainly don’t have to spend a fortune to access authentic design. Brands such as Muuto, Menu and HAY produce much more affordable items, and many of their most recognisable products (the J110 chair, the ‘Yeh’ wall table) are available for less than £200. Even classics such as the ‘String Pocket’ shelving system, first developed in 1949, can start at as little as £100.
Again, Nest is an excellent one-stop shop no matter what your budget, as its huge range encompasses all of the above, as well as once-in-a-lifetime purchases from the likes of Ercol, Flos, Tom Dixon and Vitra.
Above: Menu’s ‘Yeh’ wall table, and ‘String Pocket’ shelving
5. You can start small
Iconic design isn’t limited to furniture, either: investing in smaller accessories is a great way to start. My favourites include Normann Copenhagen’s ‘Flip’ mirror, Muuto’s ‘The Dots’ coat hooks and HAY’s ‘Strap’ mirror.
Above: Muuto’s ‘The Dots’ and HAY’s ‘Strap’ mirror
And of course, you don’t need to fill your home with designer items – some of the most eye-catching interiors blend a few well-chosen investment pieces with cheaper products from the likes of IKEA. Personally, I’m rather partial to a statement chair, which can instantly add flair to any room.
Above: Vitra’s ‘DSW’ Eames chairs and Carl Hansen’s ‘Wishbone’ chair
How about you? What are your favourite design classics?
This is a collaborative post with Nest, but all words and opinions are my own.
Most photography via Nest; other images via Sara Medina Lind (‘CH07 Shell’ chair), Time of the Aquarius (‘Oslo’ chair), Blood & Champagne (‘Swan’ chair) and Trendenser (‘DSW’ Eames chairs and ‘Wishbone’ chair)