It isn't an entirely new concept when designers talk about sculptural furnishings. It's been a stylistic aspect of many designer's work for decades and something I strive for in most interiors I create. My personal thoughts have always been that whenever possible make the furnishings (that includes furniture, lighting and accessories) as sculptural as possible but hopefully not at the expense of comfort or practicality. If comfort was the only objective, I think it would make for pretty but bland and boring interiors. On the other hand, if beautiful and sculptural furnishings were the only objective then the rooms tend to feel like museums. Hence the adage, a balance between form and function. One way to do this, is to keep all the key pieces of furnishings in a room as practical and comfortable (and beautiful) as possible and then introduce at least one terrific piece even if it is purely for it's sculptural presence.
There are many beautiful and sculptural furniture out there but to me the ones that are the epitome and the very definition of sculptural furniture are those made by the Lalannes. Of late, auction prices for the Lalannes have skyrocketed so much (and for good reason) that it makes acquiring one of their pieces as rare and pricey as a Picasso. The husband and wife duo, the late Francois-Xavier Lalanne and Claude Lalanne, both worked and exhibited together and you can see how much their thoughts and works were in unison. They had different subject matter preferences. Francois preferred over-sized animal figures with secret compartments, whereas Claude, now 86, enjoys flora over fauna and also worked on jewelry and more intricate and smaller subjects. But the sculptural quality, materials and the basic whimsical nature of both their pieces spoke to each other so well that I think one picked up where the other left off. That is the kind of flourish that's hard to come by. And the kind of work that I think will inspire us for centuries and generations to come. Il est certainement ma tasse de thé!
These are some of my favorite Lalanne pieces - images via Flickr & Pinterest