x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Crinoline: the high-back chair

Object of desire No, it's not a peacock chair but there is something of the Seventies icon in its DNA.

Dh19,600 at B&B Italia, Mall of the Emirates / 04 340 5797. Also at Atmosphere, Abu Dhabi / 02 666 5053. Available from September.
Dh19,600 at B&B Italia, Mall of the Emirates / 04 340 5797. Also at Atmosphere, Abu Dhabi / 02 666 5053. Available from September.

Remember the peacock chair? If you were around in the 1970s - or your parents were just really bad at de-cluttering - you cannot help but do so. It was, after all, just the coolest thing. And it was big; not the sort of thing you could miss. Naturally, scaling the pinnacle of fabulousness meant plunging soon afterwards into the deepest recesses of naff-dom. So deep that it's way beyond the reach of today's seemingly insatiable appetite for revivals. You would think.

Then along comes Patricia Urquiola, prodigious design talent, queen of crochet, crewel-work and all those old-fashioned "ladies' crafts", high priestess of femininity, frivolity and lightness. And she produces this (for B&B Italia's 2009 Outdoors collection). No, it's not a peacock chair but there is something of the Seventies icon in its DNA. Urquiola is very good at this: as with her metal Re-trouvé 565 garden furniture for Emu (2007), her Euphorbia lamp for Flos (2009) and her prototype blue-and-white floral tableware for Rosenthal (also 2009), she's not exactly peddling nostalgia but something in those designs resonates; you think you've seen them before but you can't quite pin them down. Then you look again and realise that they are completely new. But they seem to speak of some imagined past.

And so it is with the high-backed Crinoline chair. In its name and form, of course, it recalls Victoriana (now there was a Seventies craze. But that's another story); in its pattern of circles and petals, and its semi-transparent lightness, it suggests lace or crochet; in the rounded form of its high back.... Yup, it's the peacock chair. Or not - you decide. In one important respect, at least, it's emphatically not a rehash: unlike its predecessor, which was prone to looking frayed and flea-bitten after regular use (and heaven forfend that you should take it outside), Crinoline is practically bulletproof. The "fibre" looks remarkably natural but it is polyethelene-coated wire. Which means that it can withstand anything the climate throws at it.

So, utterly feminine and a low-maintenance lady? Perfect. Dh19,600 at B&B Italia, Mall of the Emirates / 04 340 5797. Also at Atmosphere, Abu Dhabi / 02 666 5053. Available from September.