Furniture for the Modern-Day Opium Eater

I am lucky to not have the type of family where recliners have ever been present or encouraged. Having said that, I do enjoy reclining. I could easily spend hours in a prone position—with a Cuba Libre in reach and a plate of good cheeses too. But furniture adapted to such an idle lifestyle has generally been god-awful ugly (we shan’t even speak of the Barcalounger or other such uniquely American abominations obviously intended for the overfed and under-exercised). The languid and lethargic have been out of style since Oscar Wilde and opium were popular—until now.

Privé Lounge. Designed by Philippe Starck for Cassina.

Thanks to Philippe Starck, bad boy of the design world, creator of the kitschy gnome table and the alien-esque lemon squeezer, we slothful can now be supine and proud. Starck’s Privé Collection of furniture, designed for Cassina USA, offers “great comfort and a variety of solutions”—and here “solutions” is code for never having to get up. Privé includes armchairs, sofas, chaise lounges, ottomans, and most importantly, islands. Yes, islands large and small. With fixed and adjustable armrests (these double as headrests, I assure you, as well as convenient locations to rest one’s drink). Cassina USA claims that with Prive “nothing is forbidden”—and I am already devising all manner of sinful activities that the furniture might enable (drawings to come later). Described as “provocative and ironic,” the Privé Collection gives you all the sloth without any of the guilt.



The polished aluminum structure and quilted leather upholstery elevate languor to an activity reserved for those at the pinnacle of society, so that idleness conveniently becomes the height of urban sophistication. Padding is available in different densities, and backrests are removable—all the more reason to get creative with one’s dilatoriness. Leather strips along the base and leather hand-straps on the back cushions only increase the ardent desire to self-indulge. Should absinthe regain the popularity it rightly deserves, Privé might be the perfect piece for the modern-day drinker of wormwood. The Green Fairy might in fact be the ideal mascot for the Privé island.

But Privé does not have to be a sordid affair. The various configurations lend themselves well to other activities. In black, the Privé couch is great for the patients of traditional psychoanalysis. In white, the Privé chair is a good option for enjoying simple pleasures: listening to music, reading a novel, ignoring one’s spouse. Thanks to Philippe Starck for reinvigorating laziness—and dressing it up in such finery. Is it too much to ask that the Art Institute scatter these about their collections? I’d like to spend a rainy afternoon staring at the Thorne Miniature Rooms—in a stupor of course.

Leave a Reply