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20 of the best modern armchairs

From timeless classics to contemporary designs, browse our pick of the most stylish lounge chairs out there

robin day's reclining chair, reissued by twentytwentyone

Whether you’re in the market for a modernist masterpiece, a low-slung seventies-style lounger or a sculptural statement chair, these armchairs are big on both design and comfort. Created by some of the most renowned designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, these pieces will stand the test of time and follow you from home to home.

Looking for more furniture inspiration to complete your living room? Check out our edit of the best designer sofas.

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1 ‘Bardi’s Bowl Chair’ by Lina Bo Bardi
lina bo bardi's bowl chair for arper
sinar / Arper

Made from an upholstered shell that sits in a ring-shaped frame, which can be adjusted by hand into an upright or reclining position, Lina Bo Bardi’s ‘Bowl Chair’ was made in 1951 for the designer’s own home, Casa de Vidro (Glass House), on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil. An iconic design, it’s now reissued by Italian firm Arper. £4,610, arper.com

2 ‘Croissant’ chair by Illum Wikkelsø
gubi crossiant chair best armchairs
Tommaso Del Panta

Created in 1962 and now reissued by Gubi, Wikkelsø’s playful ‘Croissant chair’ (so named for obvious reasons) spoke to his belief that furniture should be comfortable from whatever angle you sit or lie on it. The design’s exaggerated, generously padded form fits perfectly with today’s fascination for curvy, chunky pieces, as does its decidedly 70s palette. From £2,794, chaplins.co.uk

3 ‘Sveva Soft’ armchair by Carlo Colombo
flexform sveva soft swivel armchair

A truly welcoming armchair is practical as well as comfortable and beautiful. A fact that hasn’t escaped Italian designer Carlo Colombo, who created the ‘Sveva Soft’ armchair for Flexform. Made to cocoon yet support the body, it has a structured shell, goose-down cushion and robust cast- aluminium swivel base. From £4,012, interdesignuk.biz

4 ‘Pukka’ armchair by Yabu Pushelberg
ligne roset pukka armchair in yellow velvet
Ligne Roset

Known for iconic designs including the ‘Togo’ and ‘Pumpkin’ sofas, Ligne Roset has form when it comes to playful seating shapes. Its new collection, ‘Pukka’ – designed by Canadian duo Yabu Pushelberg – fits right in. With its voluptuous curves and low-slung lines, it offers a fresh take on the brand’s best-loved pieces. Armchair in ‘Gentle’ stretch velvet, £1,514, ligne-roset.com

5 ‘53’ armchair by Finn Juhl
53 chair by finn juhl
House of Finn Juhl

With its exquisitely carved wooden armrests and inviting shell seat, Finn Juhl’s 1953 design is one of his most popular and enduring pieces. Reissued in 2000, its elegant frame looks effortless from all angles. From £5,049, finnjuhl.com

6 ‘Virgule’ armchair by Christophe Delcourt
virgule armchair by christophe delcourt for pierre frey
Pierre Frey

‘Virgule’ by Christophe Delcourt for Pierre Frey is a nuanced design that merges minimalist lines and soft curves. A modular system, it comprises corner units, sofa sections and standalone pieces, such as this armchair, that can be combined in various ways. From approx £1,091, pierrefrey.com

7 ‘Bernard’ armchair by Nina Mair
bernard armchair by nina mair for la cividina
La Cividina

Austrian architect and designer Nina Mair’s latest launch for Italian brand LaCividina is the user-friendly ‘Bernard’ collection. The lounge chair is the highlight of the series – its back and armrest are the same height, allowing sitters to choose the direction they want to face without having to move the furniture. From approx £1,130, lacividina.com

8 ‘Puffy Chair’ by Faye Toogood
puffy chair by faye toogood for hem

Composed of a simple steel frame and a giant quilted duvet which is attached via velcro, Faye Toogood’s design for Swedish brand Hem is the next best thing to being tucked up in bed. Its padded upholstery comes in various colours and materials, including luxe leather. We love it so much we incorporated it into the design of our ELLE Decoration Penthouse in collaboration with Londonnewcastle. From £1,439, hem.com

9 ‘Knitting Lounge Chair’ by Ib Kofod-Larsen
‘knitting lounge chair’ by ib kofod larsen

Originally designed and launched in 1951 as a limited edition, this cosy, low-slung armchair by Danish modernist Ib Kofod-Larsen is now produced by Menu. Available in natural oak, stained oak and walnut with coordinating sheepskin upholstery, it makes an inviting spot in any corner of the home. Approx £2,463, menuspace.com

10 ‘LC3’ and ‘LC2’ armchairs by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret
lc3 and lcr armchairs in black and chrome by charlotte perriand, le corbusier and pierre jeanneret for cassina

Designed by the pioneering trio in 1928, these striking pieces were well ahead of their time. Created from bent tubular steel and leather seat cushions, they marry functional, clean-lined aesthetics with supreme comfort. From £5,805, conranshop.co.uk

11 ‘Sling chair’ by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin
sling chair by takt

For Denmark-based Takt, a transparent, responsible approach to design is as important as how products look and function. Happily, its ‘Sling’ chair ticks all the boxes. Designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of British firm Industrial Facility, it comprises a linen ‘hammock’ that slides over an oak frame, so it’s light to ship, easy to assemble and comfortable. From £416, taktcph.com

12 ‘Studio Chair’ by Buchanan Studio
studio chair by buchanan studio
Buchanan Studio

London creative firm Buchanan Studio’s first foray into furniture is the ‘Studio Chair’. Combining craftsmanship, comfort and dashing stripes, which come in ‘Ruby’ (pictured), ‘Indigo’ and ‘Rose’, it’s a confident debut and a taste of things to come. £2,394, buchanan.studio

13 ‘Iklwa’ chair by Mac Collins
iklwa chair by mac collins for benchmark

Adapted from Collins’ ‘Iklwa’ chair, which won the 2018 Cræftiga Award at The London Design Fair, the chair’s Afrofuturistic shapes are intended to empower the sitter and unite the Nottingham-based designer’s African-Caribbean roots with British craft. Large chair, from £2,275, benchmarkfurniture.com

14 ‘Balzac’ armchair by Matthew Hilton
the balzac armchair and stool by matthew hilton for scp

Designed by Matthew HIlton for SCP in 1991, the ‘Balzac’ is a modern interpretation of a gentleman’s club chair and is a bona fide icon of British design. For its 30th anniversary, the furniture brand has introduced new fabrics, plus updated its padding and materials to be sustainable and 100% natural. Read the story behind the design. From £3,454, scp.co.uk

15 ‘Lazybones’ armchair by Studiopepe
lazybones chair by studiopepe for baxter
Marco Bello

Pleasingly generous in proportions yet compact enough to slot into smaller spaces, Studiopepe’s chunky little chair has a distinctively postmodernist feel – it would make an ideal addition to a bedroom or dressing room. From £3,360, baxter.it

16 ‘Le Club’ by Jean-Marie Massaud
le club armchair poliform

Seemingly created from a few undulating folds of fabric, Massaud’s ‘Le Club’ armchair for Poliform may seem futuristic in form; in fact, its generous shape harks back to the traditional club chair of the past. Available in a palette of luxurious leathers and wools, it’ll make for a sculptural presence in any space. £4,438, poliform.it

17 ‘Reclining Chair’ by Robin Day
robin day's reclining chair, reissued by twentytwentyone

Relaunched in 2011, design brand Twentytwentyone worked closely with Robin Day (1915-2010) to put his 1950 ‘Reclining Chair’ for Hille back into production. This anniversary edition, which marks the retailer’s 25th year, is upholstered in a rich textured weave specially created by Mourne Textiles, a frequent collaborator with the Days throughout their careers. The mahogany armrests of the original have been substituted for American walnut. £2,450, twentytwentyone.com

18 ‘Oxbow’ lounge chair by Namon Gaston
dare studio oxbox armchair
Dare Studio

Having scooped up a prestigious Design Guild Mark, Dare Studio’s ‘Oxbow’ lounge chair has the makings of a future classic. Designed by Namon Gaston, the piece is crafted from steam-bent timber and oak, and upholstered in UK-made wool by Mourne Textiles and Eleanor Pritchard Studio. From £2,400, darestudio.com

19 ‘Colonial OW149’ armchair by Ole Wanscher
carl hansen and son colonial ow149 armchair
Carl Hansen & Son

Created by Danish minimalist Ole Wanscher for Carl Hansen & Søn in 1949, the ‘Colonial’ chair strikes a careful balance between traditional and modernity, and luxury and restraint. Although seemingly simple and pared-back, slender, carved arms and a choice of refined fabrics –including butter-soft leather – provide a tactile experience for the sitter. From £1,819, carlhansen.com

20 ‘Modern Farmhouse’ armchair by Fred Rigby
modern farmhouse occasional chair by fred rigby for another country
Another Country

Made of solid oak and upholstered in 100 per cent natural materials, Another Country’s ‘Modern Farmhouse’ chair is a compact, characterful and considered design. Ideal for bedrooms, dressing rooms and bijoux lounges. £1,695, anothercountry.com

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