Takahama On the Couch: Psychoanalyzing Suzanne for Knoll

While it’s certainly true that back-to-back seating has a definitive purpose in reception areas, I like to think that designers are taking feuding couples into account. Just imagine a home condition like that in The War of the Roses—and see how pieces like Termo and Suzanne fit the psychology of divorce. Created many moons ago (when some readers weren’t even zygotes), Suzanne is the brainchild of Kazuhide Takahama, the Japanese mastermind who designed the lounge collection for the Gavina Group of Milan in 1965 (which was taken over by Knoll International in 1968).

Suzanne. Designed by Kazuhide Takahama for Knoll.

Suzanne fuses “Eastern and Western design principles”: simplicity and versatility, clean lines and organic shapes. The modular Suzanne Lounge Collection yields a virtually infinite number of design results from just a few pieces: chair, double chair, settee, and sofa. In keeping with my troubled scenario, I imagine an arrangement of back-to-back double chairs for acrimonious swingers (AKA a couple of feuding couples). That is wild conjecturing on my part, since the more likely use for Suzanne is for “seating possibilities for commercial interiors, especially suited to universities, public and reception areas, and hospitality applications.”

Constructed of a tubular steel base with polished chrome finish, the Suzanne Lounge Collection uses separate, high-resilient foam cushions with MDF seats and back supports. Upholster the units in the same textile for a unified look or choose different fabrics for a more playful expression. Also available in leather, Suzanne has one limitation: upholstery for the collection is only available in solids. If you and your partner were arguing over pattern, let it go—that is a pointless squabble. Takahama is also recognized for his DaDa storage (also from 1965, a good year for design).



Since I tend to be difficult, I chose to write about Suzanne partly because it is one of the few standards NOT on sale this week as part of the Knoll Classics Sale taking place from February 1-6 at their New York City showroom. However, you can reap the benefits of other famous designers: Bertoia, Breuer, Florence Knoll, Mies, Risom, and Saarinen (all their KnollStudio designs are included in the Classics sale). A few of my favorites: Bertoia’s Diamond Chair, Breuer’s Wassily Chair, Florence Knoll’s Bench, van der Rohe’s Barcelona Couch, Risom’s Amoeba Coffee Table, and Saarinen’s Tulip.

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