Chiara of chairs

Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with messaging. Surrounded by advertising and pop culture celebrities competing for our attention, we’re left with no time to think for ourselves. As a response to a world that can’t stop talking, French designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance has created Chiara as a chair for reflection, connection and to regain a sense of clarity.

“The goal was not to make a proclamation with the chair, but for its function to be self-evident,” says Duchaufour-Lawrance. So often, chairs are designed as statement pieces to command attention and make an impression. Chiara engages with us in a different way. “I wanted its form to flow under your eyes – to be a chair whose purpose is to support, but not influence.”

Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance is best known for his nuanced, sophisticated and organic furniture pieces. When Bernhardt Design President Jerry Helling approached him about creating a new lounge chair, it gave Duchaufour-Lawrance an opportunity to apply his signature design language to create something streamlined, pure and versatile.

Says the designer, “Our personal and professional worlds have blurred together. Technology and media are ubiquitous. Chiara is a refuge from our over-stimulated world,” 

Though designed as a “refuge,” Chiara does not lack character. Chiara’s shape was inspired both by nature and a desire for modern functionality. For the seat, Duchaufour-Lawrance drew from the shapes of flower petals and leaves. As a result, the chair cradles without enveloping you. Chiara is at once supportive, but not restrictive. As a modern lounge piece, Chiara’s generous open seat swivels and allows you to use the chair in different ways. Chiara is meant to adjust to your needs, rather than dictate how it is to be used.

As is often the case with Duchaufour-Lawrance’s work, the details are meticulously considered. Crisp stitching along the seat and a tailored seat pad emphasize depth and comfort. The custom sculpted metal base appears to be an organic extension of the seat, like a lotus stem.

Duchaufour-Lawrance draws upon a wide variety of past experiences and professional accomplishments to bring his ideas to fruition. His father’s work as a sculptor influenced him to pursue academic degrees in both furniture design and metal sculpture. In recent years, his success with high profile restaurant commissions, such as London’s Sketch and the famed Senderens in Paris, has secured his trademark design language of merging fluidity with structural forms.

Chiara’s seat is molded foam over a steel frame and rests on a polished aluminum base with a self-return swivel mechanism. Chiara may be upholstered in fabrics and leathers from Bernhardt Textiles or in the customer’s own material.

Parisian designer Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance is the founder of creative studio Neonata and the recipient of the prestigious 2007 Maison & Objet Créateur de l’Année award. As an environmental designer, he is internationally recognized for his artistic direction of the bold design of the interiors of the Sketch restaurant in Soho, London, as well as for the dramatic makeover of Senderens (formerly known as Lucas Carton), where he successfully complemented and contrasted Majorelle’s historic Art Nouveau wood-paneled interiors with a contemporary twist of luminous tables and engraved mirrors. He also designed the new interiors of the Maya Bar in Monaco, rejuvenated the famous Maison Sénéquier in St Tropez, and in collaboration with Brand Image created the new visual and architectural identity of the Air France business class lounges.

His product design reflects an inspiration derived from nature by incorporating smooth shapes with organic lines which remain fluid and structured at the same time. His series of “Down Side Up” vases resemble round pebbles; his office ensemble “Landscape” created for Longchamp takes the form of a moving landscape; and his furniture for Ceccotti – including the iconic Manta Desk – appears as an elegant mix of intertwined curved lines and ramifications. His achievements also include successes for his design of Rémanence, a candelabra designed for Baccarat; a perfume bottle in the shape of a gold bar for Paco Rabanne; and the Derby chair for Zanotta.

Bernhardt Design was founded in 1980 by the 120-year-old Bernhardt Furniture Company and continues to be a leader and innovator in furniture design and production. During the past 10 years, President Jerry Helling has assembled an extraordinary creative team that has positioned Bernhardt Design as one of the leading international design companies with a roster of talent that includes: Ross Lovegrove (London), Arik Levy (Paris), Jaime Hayon (Barcelona), Yves Béhar (San Francisco), Patrick Jouin (Paris), Fabien Baron (New York), Monica Förster (Stockholm), CuldeSac (Valencia), Suzanne Trocmé (London), Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance (Paris), Jeffrey Bernett (New York), Charles Pollock (New York), and Claudia and Harry Washington (San Salvador).