Jump on the bed, slide on the stairs – 10 playful furniture and homeware designs
Our Instagram audience wanted us to write about ‘Playful Furniture’ so here’s some of the best we could find, all featuring designs that are wacky or fun.
We asked our audience on Instagram what they would like us to write about and they said ‘Playful Furniture’. So, we’ve picked out some of the most eye-catching designs from over the last half a century, including a twisted love bench that forces users to face one another and a chair that looks like an oversized piece of grass.
Sella by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Zanotta (1957)
This stool combines the leather saddle of a racing bike and a pink lacquered steel column. Designed as a ‘telephone stool’, it was made to allow the user to half sit and half stand while talking on a wall-mounted telephone.
The piece was designed by brothers and occasional design duo Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1957, a symbol of Made in Italy and the modernist approach of using everyday objects in unexpected ways. With its rounded base and challenge to equilibrium, it’s also a great way for improving core strength while working from home.
Pratone by Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi and Riccardo Rosso for Gufram (1971)
With its long green stems that wrap the user in comfort, Pratone takes inspiration from the natural form of overgrown grass. Made from polyurethane foam and covered with a washable varnish that mimics the look of leather, these 42 giant stalks reform after use just like the real thing.
Pratone is a beautifully irreverent design created for Gufram in 1971 by Gruppo Strum, an Italian radical design group made up of architects, Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi and Riccardo Rosso.
Spun by Thomas Heatherwick (2007)
Terrifying, exhilarating and playful, the Spun Chair by British designer Thomas Heatherwick was an accidental creation whilst experimenting with the process of spinning metal. When upright, it looks like a sculptural vessel. However, when tilted it spins around and rocks from side-to-side, playing with the user’s viewpoint and challenging their perspective.
Used across indoor and outdoor public spaces around the world, Spun embodies playful design through its championing of democratic participation. Multiple iterations of this spinning top-shaped chair have been launched since its inception in 2007.
Jigsaw Puzzle Coffee Table by Unnecessary Inventions (2020)
A jigsaw puzzle that’s also a coffee table, the aptly called Jigsaw Puzzle Coffee Table is as functional as it is playful. A 55-piece top is made from laser cut wood allowing each puzzle piece to perfectly fit together.
It is the brainchild of designer Matty Benedetto, founder of US-based studio Unnecessary Inventions. Founded to solve real world problems that don’t actually exist, this perfect contradiction has also led to other nonsensical inventions like the Alarm Clock Cup and a pair of suspenders designed to keep face masks in place.
Slide-stairs in Panorama House by Moon Hoon (2011)
Designed by Seoul studio Moon Hoon, the Panorama house features a wooden slide slotted into a combined staircase and bookshelf. Situated at the heart of the three-storey residence, the multi-functional imbues the architecture with vitality and intellect. Because stairs are boring anyway.
Room Collection by Erik Olovsson & Kyuhyung Cho (2014)
Erik Olovsson and Kyuhyung Cho designed the ROOM Collection as a modular furniture system made up of 25 stackable blocks. Each with a geometric void, users can compose their own unique storage unit mixing and matching each component to create infinite styles.
Reminiscent of a child’s toy, the finished piece is graphic and sculptural thanks to each block being inspired by different objects. “Round” is perfect for wine, “Zigzag” has the right proportions for mobile phones, tablets and laptops, and “Peaked” is great for an open book.
Interdependence II Bench by Houtlander (2019)
Founded by furniture designers Phillip Hollander and cabinet maker Stephen Wilson, Houtlander challenges the form and functionality of wood. Called Interdependence II, this particular design is a twisted take on a love bench, facilitating a different kind of intimacy. The result is a playful and provocative design, thanks to its eye-catching colour and sinuous curves.
The King Arthur by Duffy London (2014)
From boardroom to playroom, The King Arthur replaces the traditional meeting table with a giant piece of playground equipment. A series of hanging chairs are suspended from a four-poster frame reminiscent of a swing carousel.
If you want to know more about the work of Duffy London, don’t miss The Civilization series.
Tables by Michael Beitz
Another designer pushing the envelope when it comes to public furniture is Michael Beitz. His sculptural work plays with and challenges the functionality of everyday objects namely picnic tables which he transforms into mesmerizing spots for people to interact with.
BuzziJungle by Jonas Van for BuzziSpace (2016)
In 2016, Belgian designer and architect Jonas Van created BuzziJungle for office furniture company BuzziSpace. Challenging the traditional confines of the workplace, this structural design turns the meeting room into a multilevel playground encouraging users to be active and interact.
BuzziSpace tells us how to reshape our workspaces, head to The trophy office.