Crinoline Armchair with High Backrest

Designer Patricia Urquiola is somewhat of a chair wizard, always combining sleek shapes with interesting texture. Something old, something new seems to be her motto. Perhaps this combination comes from her Spanish upbringing and Italian lifestyle: born in Oviedo, Urquiola now resides and works in Milan.

Crinoline Chair. Designed by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia

You can see her penchant for mixing classic and cutting edge elements in the Canasta and Tropicalia Collections, both recently covered by 3rings—one made of natural fiber, the other of plastic, though both play with reinventing the weave. Once again, Urquiola is juxtaposing form and material in her Crinoline Collection, a selection of outdoor furniture designed for B&B Italia. Of the individual pieces in this newest group of outdoor furnishings, the Crinoline Armchair with High Backrest cannot be ignored.


Crinoline—for modern readers who cannot remember having worn dresses lined with the stuff—is defined as “a coarse stiff fabric of cotton or horsehair used especially to line and stiffen hats and garments.” At once soft and hard, crinoline is an unusual material—as unusual as Urquiola’s chair. Offered in a combination of weaves, including an asymmetrical floral pattern, the Crinoline Armchair with High Backrest is the modern version of that infamous King or Queen Fan Chair (also called peacock chair or cobra chair, in case one animal name didn’t suffice). Personally, I remember the high-backed wicker chair from Live and Let Die, as the throne from which the virginal Solitaire throws her tarot cards (Jane Seymour is the Bond girl).

Of course, Urquiola’s version is a complete reinvention. The Crinoline Armchair with High Backrest measures approximately 30″ W x 23″ D x 44″ H—a bold size that makes an even bolder statement. Outdoors, the Crinoline collection works with the environment, complementing the natural with its organic material. But it also works against the organic, because its unusual silhouette and woven patterns emphasize the manmade: the conscious decision of the designer to control the environment. The entire Crinoline Collection is sure to look good en plein air, elevating outdoor furniture to new heights—as tall as the backrest on Urquiola’s armchair.

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