They are as familiar to us as our childhood homes, yet they still feel fresh and current. These 10 classic designs — constantly reimagined — have proved their enduring appeal over decades and even centuries. They transcend trendiness: They've never gone out of style. Why? They are functional, good-looking, well proportioned, intelligent and versatile, lending themselves to any number of interpretations. They're great in traditional settings; they're great in contemporary ones. In short, they work. Anytime, anywhere.
1. Chaise longue
WHAT IT IS: The chaise longue, meaning "long chair," was created in 18th century France with one arm, a cushioned back and a seat that stretched out far enough to politely accommodate a sitter's outstretched legs. During the Modernist era of the '20s and '30s, the chaise longue (pronounced shez long, not chaze lounge, as Americans are too often wont to err), gained international popularity when European designers reenvisioned it.
WHY IT WORKS: Lounge-ability equals longevity, says New York architect Richard Meier, who designed L.A.'s Getty Center. "It's a masterpiece of furniture," he says. "You're not lying down in a bed or sitting up as you would in a chair. You're somewhere in between." His favorite: Le Corbusier's iconic 1928 tubular steel and cowhide chaise, which the Swiss architect and designer called "a relaxing machine."
WHERE TO FIND IT: This neoclassical Scroll chaise, $1,709, is from Milling Road by Baker; www.kohlerinteriors.com.
THE LOOK FOR LESS: Sophie Chaise, $1,199 at Pottery Barn; www.potterybarn.com.
2. Klismos chair
WHAT IT IS: Created in Greece in the 5th century BC and influenced by Egyptian styles, this graceful chair — known for its absolute purity of form — is one of the most reinterpreted of furniture designs. It is distinguished by saber-shaped legs splayed at the front and back and a gently curved backrest that conforms to the human back. In 1961, British-born interior and furniture designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings pared down the klismos design to its essentials, creating a refined Modernist chair of walnut and woven leather that is still being reproduced.
WHY IT WORKS: "Robsjohn-Gibbings really got the shape right; it's not clunky. It's beautiful and light, easy to pull up for a conversation," says Los Angeles interior designer David Desmond, who considers the klismos versatile enough to fit classical and modern design schemes, but also a formal piece. "It's not a lounge-around, watching-TV chair," he says, "but a piece of sculpture."
WHERE TO FIND IT: Robsjohn-Gibbings klismos chairs, as shown here, $16,500 for two at Blackman Cruz, Los Angeles; (310) 657-9228.
THE LOOK FOR LESS: The Pompeii side chair, $995 at Kreiss Collection; (310) 657-3990.
3. Regency table