Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Portable Glamour.

Space-conscious furniture has always been the L.L. Bean of the home design world- functional, yes. But pretty, stylish or fashionable? No.

But as our rooms and apartments get smaller while the home entertaining trend grows, the benefits of stackable, stowable or hideable furniture is obvious. So it's with this mindset that I set out to prove that foldability and good design aren't mutually exclusive ideas.

First, the folding chair. Folding chairs make sense because they solve the problem of having to force guests to sprawl out on the floor, and they can be easily be hidden away when not in use. Neiman Marcus (The Plaza at King of Prussia Mall) has an authentic antique folding chair, originally used at opera performances. Its curved lines and woven seat would be best highlighted in a white room.

Next, was Target. They're in a fit of pseudo-ethnic style at Target (Southeast Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, etc.), which gave me the feeling I was at Pier 1, right down to the potpourri. While I believe that style can be had at all price points, I don't see why "affordable" always has to go hand in hand with "Anonymous Eastern Country." The best option was the classic Director's Chair. It will juxtapose nicely in those pricey, library-esque living rooms. Word of warning: Director's Chairs are notoriously wobbly, so lower the gin content in that batch of Tom Collins.

The stackable chair is more abundant and quite often, better designed. The best place in Philadelphia is, hands down, Minima (118 N. 3rd). The Panton chair's curves and color options are cheery, while the Gigi Stacking, .03, and Fpe chairs have aerodynamic sleekness. Studio apartment dwellers take note- these options, especially the Panton chairs, don't look awful when stacked out in the open.