Living inspired by vintage offices and miniature chairs


Salone del Mobile, 1967

Gathering inspiration from Instagram design accounts, with stories of chairs, tables and office pieces, by way of history and collectors’ items

Much of our social network activity could well be described as scrolling through a continuous sequence of images, memes and profiles. This is especially true of Instagram, which boasts 2 billion active users a month, 500 million a day (Websiterating). We can leverage this continuous flow as we choose, build a feed (compatible with the algorithm) best tailored to us and, especially, that is carefully managed and provides us with practically instantaneous notifications relating to all our interests - better still if they come from accounts with original, lateral takes - providing daily inspiration for our moodboards and references.

Design is quite capable of holding its own, adapting perfectly to this flow and in fact becoming its protagonist, not just thanks to its visual power but also thanks to the many enthusiasts who devote accounts and specific searches to single categories or to moods and atmospheres. In this regard, the vintage character of places, offices for example, now even more retro than ever - given the huge increase in smart working over the last two years – has spawned pages that have notched up masses of followers, with pictures of old open-plan spaces and halls of prestigious headquarters, now outdated and almost sweetly futuristic with their old-style computers. This is true of _______office for example, its pinboard allowing us to immerse ourselves in ambiances reminiscent of the TV series Mad Men or The Office in which armchairs, desks, printers and fax machines reign supreme, reminding us of how office life used to be in every respect.

Certainly the patina conveyed by strip lights features in other office-focused profiles, such as Office.aesthetics, which publicises original ways of taking breaks in open spaces, desks designed with geometric booths or innovative ways of integrating productivity and innovation, such as glass alcoves for phone calls and small meetings, reminiscent of the atmospheres in Woody Allen’s Sleeper. All carefully balanced by images and memes drawn from episodes of TV series such as The Office, as before, or Seinfeld.

In addition to this, there are also celebratory profiles devoted entirely to single furnishing pieces. Given all the decades-worth of literature and creativity that have gone into rethinking, designing and deconstructing chairs, it was inevitable that there would be masses of profiles narrating them. Chair.only – the name says it all – is one such. It has notched up more than 71,000 followers for an account that doesn’t just feature still lifes of actual or prototype chairs, but also drawings, sketches and designs for one of the most versatile pieces of furniture, ranging from Philippe Stark to Salvador Dalì, to Gio Ponti and Shigeru Uchida. Chair_aware, on the other hand, favours a less historical bias in favour of research and innovation, with 3D rendering and designs definitely more appropriate to contemporary life.

Demonstrating that the chair has often turned out to be a real fetish for design fans, the accounts S.j.p_design and Miniaturstuhl_de feature shots of cabinet-makers’ miniature models of the most iconic chairs in design history. The sort of endeavour that certainly calls for a great deal of time and a great deal of patience, but for which there is a real market. It’s not hard to find miniature models perfect in every detail produced by furniture companies such as Vitra or in online shops frequented by collectors and small craft producers and fans such as Etsy and eBay. The 1:6/1:8 scale models of Gerrit Thomas Rietveld’s Zig Zag Chair for Cassina, the Panton Chair, or a Thonet with masses of Vienna straw or Le Corbusier’s armchair for Cassina are almost more fascinating in their microscopic perfection than in their actual size, with lots (at times) of physical elements allowing the account followers to grasp the fact that the image that might, like many others, appear real, is not in fact: often the chairs measure less than five centimetres. Adorable! 

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