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Chubby design: big is definitely beautiful in furniture right now

We chart the rise of chubby design and ask why fuller-figure furniture is in vogue

'Neotenic' chair by Jumbo
'Neotenic' chair by Jumbo, from £9,042, Matter Matters

Lozenges, arches and curves have dominated in the design world of late, and now a handful of creatives and makers are taking things one step further and exploring a softer style, embracing playful, marshmallow-like forms and podgy shapes. Russian designer Fedor Katcuba’s ‘Buzz’ chair is typical of the aesthetic, a piece of furniture distilled into the simplest of elements: one continuous squishy line upholstered in rich velvet.

'Buzz' chairs, £500 each, Fedor Katcuba
'Buzz' chairs, £500 each, Fedor Katcuba

So what’s inspired this appreciation for rotund, portly products? ‘My designs took on this aesthetic due to my experiences of pregnancy and motherhood, when everything had to be well-rounded and fall-offable,’ explains Faye Toogood, whose ‘Roly-Poly’ chair was one of the forerunners of the trend.

‘FAT IS BEING RECLAIMED AS A BEAUTIFUL THING. THE IDEA WAS TO INFLATE THE PIECE‘S TWO MAIN ELEMENTS’

chair by Tom Dixon
'Fat' chair, from £275, Tom Dixon

It was also practical concerns that led Tom Dixon to create his ‘Fat’ dining chairs, which are intended to closely hug the body and provide comfort throughout even the most languorous of suppers. ‘Fat is being reclaimed as a beautiful thing for a chair to be,’ he says. ‘It’s really hard to design a seat that is comfortable, minimal and new looking, but we super-reduced its form. The idea was to inflate the piece’s two main elements to make them as fat as possible, giving it character.’

chair by Objects of Common Interest
'Tube' chair, £8,003, Objects of Common Interest

But could there be other, unconscious motives behind the move to fuller-figured furniture? Maybe it’s a reaction to the tough political and socio-economic climate we’re facing, which has left us craving softness and reassurance. Or perhaps it’s a small act of rebellion, challenging existing notions of beauty and good taste – words like ‘elegant’ have historically been attributed only to delicate forms when it comes to high-end design. Whatever the reasons for the trend, if the covetable pieces in our edit are anything to go by, chubbiness is clearly the shape of things to come. Tom Dixon.net, Fedor Katcuba.com, Matter Matters.com, Objects of Common Interest.com

This article first appeared in August 2019 issue of Elle Decoration

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