The Beautiful and the Useful

By embodying the soft curves, textures, and skin-like hues of the human body, these designs bear witness to our inherent vanity as a species as we revel in and celebrate the beauty that is uniquely ours.


June 29, 2023

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Photo courtesy of TOOY

Nabila Table Lamp, TOOY

Is it light, is it matter, is it… alive? The Milan-based design and architecture office of Corrado Dotti designed the Nabila Table Lamp for TOOY with the 1950s in mind—sophisticated, elegant, and with a hint of fascination with the otherworldly. The luminous body of light surrounded by smoked borosilicate glass perches upon a metallic base. The delicate curves and contours create an intimate ambience that reflects Corrado’s practice of designing simple and elegant products for contemporary homes. 

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Photo courtesy of Estudio Persona

Aire Stool, Estudio Persona

Uruguayan designers Emiliana Gonzalez and Jessie Young met in Los Angeles, where they formed Estudio Persona to make classic objects with an unconventional flair—like the sultry stool Aire. “The Aire stool continues the line of our work, having a graphic and sculptural presence while at the same time being warm and feminine,” Emiliana says. “In this piece we explored the balance of intermission and continuity—aiming to create tension between shapes and using a void space to freely let the mind connect the pieces.” $2,800


Bow Chair, Vonnegut/Kraft

The couple Katrina Vonnegut and Brian Kraft designed the Bow chair for the Egg Collective “Mothers” exhibition. “The work we create is rooted in organic forms that relate to the human body and nature, but it’s an abstraction of these observations,” Katrina says, referencing the way the Bow chair grows from itself, curving outward like cupped hands. “With everything that we design, we like to have the material surprise you with what it can do and how it reveals itself in its form.”

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Photo courtesy of Vonnegut/Kraft

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Photo by Charlie Schuck

Melt Daybed, Bower Studios 

New York City’s Bower Studios designed the Melt daybed in response to the collective anxiety of the pandemic. “Energy is contagious, so we strived to give inanimate objects the energy of softness, calmness, and relaxation in the hopes that these characteristics tied into their forms would rub off on people, bringing them closer to center,” says Bower Studios cofounder Danny Giannella. The slumping cushions droop from the wooden frames, reflecting the human form relaxing into gravity’s pull. $9,850


Moire Vase, ferm living

Scandinavian design has a reputation for clean, honest materials and neutral tones—but Ferm Living gives them a twist, literally, with curving shapes inspired by the natural world. The Moire vase, derived from the French word for “watered,” combines the organic and geometric, the natural and technological. Its 3D-printed clay body consists of thin horizontal layers that ripple softly across the vase’s graceful, curving body, revealing the manufacturing process in a way that stays true to its watery inspiration. $179

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Photo courtesy of ferm living

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Photo courtesy of Fogia

Bollo Barstool, Fogia 

In 2016 the Bollo armchair was created for Fogia by Norwegian designer Andreas Engesvik, inspired by the tubular frames of mid-century modern lounge furniture. Conceptualized as slim, modest, and distinctly Scandinavian, Bollo actualized as a roomy and well-cushioned lounge chair. In 2023 Andreas and Fogia teamed up again to transform Bollo into a barstool with the same comfort and base of clean lines.

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Photo courtesy of Alexandra Isabella

Mushroom Floor Lamp, Nicholas Bijan Pourfard

San Diego-based designer Nick Pourffard ideated the sensuous, hand-thrown ceramic Mushroom Lamp in his notes app. “The goal was to use no additional hardware to facilitate the shade or the articulation. I came up with this form-relationship to help the base and shade move with each other and realized I was drawing heavily from nature and mushrooms,” Nick says. He collaborated with a potter in San Francisco to realize the design. $850


Relevo Rug, Muuto 

Milan-based multidisciplinary studio Studiopepe designed Muuto’s first piled rug not for the eye, but for the foot. The design’s curving rows of pile take a cue from land art from the ’60s and ’70s, where artists like Richard Long painted in lines of soil. The tactile tufting is consciously designed for the foot. “We imagined the feeling of walking barefoot in the grass or sand, aspiring to re-create that nice sensation of the feet in Relevo’s furrows. You can discover the piece through the body,” says Studiopepe’s Chiara di Pinto.
Starts at $1,549

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Photo courtesy of Muuto

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Photo courtesy of Blå Station

Max Armchair, Blå Station

Johan Ansander’s Max armchair for Blå Station looks ready to speak or leap into action with its curved seat and thick, rounded legs. The upholstered chair is an extension of Johan’s Maximus armchair, a wooden version of the same form that he designed in 2020. Max maintains the same “comic strip furniture” silhouette and lively feel but is decked out with springs, foam, and upholstery that invite the body’s weight. 

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Photo by Adam Joseph Wells

Barro, Graypants 

Peruvian designer Caterina Moretti, founder of Peca Studio, worked with Graypants to design the Barro pendant light as a love story to her now-home Mexico, combining traditional handcrafting practices and contemporary style. Barro is made of Oaxaca itself, the earth transformed by hand through ancient, regional processes to create a smooth column that encircles the light source. A glass-blown shade casts undulating waves across the clay core, creating motion and giving the light a seductive aura. $1,100


Sling Lounge Chair, Takt

Sam Hecht and Kim Colin designed the Sling Lounge Chair with only four screws. The chair is made for “lighter living” and the modern, casual lifestyle. Youthful, lightweight, and low-slung, Sling is the carrier of total relaxation and ease. The nude colors of its rigid wooden legs and swooping seat reflect its aim to fit into our lives as seamlessly as possible, suiting our spaces as easily as our spines. €819

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Photo courtesy of Takt

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Photo courtesy of Gantri

Cerra Table Light, Gantri

The natural world is full of soft curves along which light gradually transitions to shadow—think of the curve of the neck or the swell of a seashell. In natural curvatures, American designer Bradley Bowers found inspiration for the Cerra Collection: a voluptuous light diffuser made using Gantri’s additive method of 3D printing. “I wanted to make sure that whether they were turned on or off, each piece in the collection would be striking so when they transition from off to on they become another object completely,” Bradley says. $198


Plusminus, Vibia

Plusminus is a lighting toolkit by German designer Stefan Diez for Vibia.  The system offers endless configurability thanks to a conductive textile ribbon that allows for free placement of the light sources. The conductive belts create swooping or straight lines, slung across ceilings or draped to the floor. Every decision and feature of Plusminus can be traced to Stefan’s 10 circular guidelines: the system’s adjustability, individually replaceable and reparable parts, and minimalist design all allow for a conscious, long life.

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Photo courtesy of Vibia

All Hands, Nordic Knots

Designer Giancarlo Valle reinterprets Scandinavian rug-making with Nordic Knots through the lens of the saturated, hand-painted surroundings of his upbringing in South America. “This collection was a chance for me to explore something very personal—to reconnect with the idea of painting and sketching from my childhood,” he says. All Hands’ reaching fingertips and the hand-sketched motifs of its partner rugs, Buds and Loops, all spawned from Giancarlo’s own gentle touch as he reconnected with his childhood. Starts at $995

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Photo courtesy of Nordic Knots/Magnus Mårding

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Photo courtesy of Meridiani

René Sofa, Meridiani

The René Sofa from Meridiani is a modular sofa consisting of elements linked by their expressive curving lines. Meridiani’s art director, Andrea Parisio, interprets the home (abitare means “inhabit” in Italian) as a dress (abito means “clothing” in Italian) to wear. Thus the home is both an expression of personal style and an envelope that encompasses life itself. In the case of the swelling and meandering René sofa, the design takes cues not just from the dress but also from the body that wears it.


Sacha Chair, Resident

British-Canadian designer Philippe Malouin designed the Sacha chair with echoes of the body, but in faint, abstracted geometry that toes the line of brutalism. The fully upholstered chair’s folded backrest is like a chin jutted out with confidence, declaring its presence. Yet its aura of conviction and stubbornness belies its truth—Sacha and its backrest are designed at the ideal angle to support the spine and offer relaxation. $1,850

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Photo by Fran Parente

A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 10 with the headline “The Beautiful and the Useful.” Subscribe today.

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