10 designer furniture pieces worth the investment – and where to buy them

Buying iconic designer furniture is an investment for many reasons. From a classic Eames chair to the Flos floor lamp, we look at the most timeless pieces and where to buy them

Designer furniture: Eames recliner chair in living room by large window
(Image credit: Nest)

Buying timeless designer furniture won't just make an impact on your decor – lots of design classics are labelled as such for a reason, to take centre stage in a room – but you can guarantee you'll be sitting on that sofa, turning on that light or eating from that chair for a lifetime. Not just that, but should you be after vintage options, you can tick that sustainability box, too. Buying secondhand has never been more popular – especially when it comes to furniture. We're talking iconic modern furniture for living rooms from the Eames recliner chair to the Flos lamp and the Soriana Sofa that can be bought both new and from notable vintage sellers.

"We're seeing a rise in design classics appearing in the houses we like to feature, with mid century favourites like the Eames lounger being used next to modern pieces like the Ghost chair - yes, it's back!" says Livingetc's editor Pip McCormac. "There's a timeless comfort in these familiar shapes, making a room feel homely simply because these designs are held so dear. Also, don't forget that they became classics for a reason - usually because they're extremely comfortable - which has got to be appealing right now." 

When buying, obviously be sure to look for tags or labels – these may be less prominent on some pieces such as thin chairs or lighting, but take a good look. From these labels, you should be able to tell both when and where the piece of furniture was first created – whether vintage or brand new. As for when you are shopping online, be mindful that some websites sell replica designer furniture, so if you are getting a bargain it is probably a replica. Also, your best bet is to stick to well-known websites such as Heal's, The Conran Shop and John Lewis & Partners. The furniture you use daily is more than worth the investment (especially in times like now) and these top buys below are sought-after for good reason.

What to invest in yourself? Whether for your living room, a home office or bedroom, keep scrolling for what to buy to bring a touch of old-fashioned chic into your home in 2021.

1. Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner

Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner | From £376.55 at The Conran Shop
Straight out of 1949, the Wishbone Chair is a design classic that deserves pride of place inside any dining room. Created in Iceland with an average sale price of £780 in 2021, we've managed to find them on sale at The Conran Shop. With all different frame colours – from black oak to soaped beech – available, and each one boasts a unique natural paper cord seat.View Deal

2. Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto

Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto | £214 £181.90 at The Conran Shop
This space-saving stool goes way back to the year 1933. It's known for its revolutionary curved L-leg – which makes them stackable – and although known for being plain birch wood, they do come in several colours. These stools were created on home soil, too.View Deal

3. LC3 Armchair by Le Corbusier

LC3 Armchair by Le Corbusier | £5,928.00 £5,038.80 at The Conran Shop
This armchair was designed by the iconic trio Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in 1928, in the US. One reason we love it – it was one of their first furniture designs. It also features a polished chrome frame and leather upholstery making it perfect for contemporary spaces – we're imagining one in a home office. With deep cushions for optimal comfort and two armrests, it's certainly not a case of style over substance.
View Deal

4. Ph5 Lamp by Poul Henningsen

Ph5 Lamp by Poul Henningsen | £880 at Heal's
This three-shade lamp is a creation of Poul Henningsen. This pendant gives out a softer, more flattering light since it was created  in the year 1958 –  a time when electric lighting was still new, and the unwanted glare was off putting.View Deal

5. Soriana Sofa by Tobia & A.Scarpa

Soriana Sofa by Tobia & A.Scarpa | From £3,812 at Paomono
Comfort meets style with 1970s the Soriana Sofa. Extremely popular in Mexico, this sofa won the Compassa D’Oro (Golden Compass) – an industrial design award – in 1970. With a chromed metal frame and plush seating, it sits close to the floor so as to hide the feet. Originals are hard to come by, and it's clear to see why...View Deal

6. Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia

Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia | £1,050 £892.50 at Knoll
This large unupholstered chair is made from steel rods and it was made in 1952. Choose from a polished chrome, white or black rislan or a outdoor-friendly model. Pair with a seat cushion for comfort.View Deal

7. Atollo Lamp by Vico Magistretti

Atollo Lamp by Vico Magistretti | £760 £684 at The Conran Shop
This timeless award-winning table lamp is crafted using gold or black-glazed metal. Originally designed in 1977, this dimmable lamp  is considered an Italian design icon. Perfect for hallways, a home office or living rooms.View Deal

8. Arco Floor Lamp by Flos

Arco Floor Lamp by Flos | £1,910 at John Lewis & Partners
You'll find this grand floor lamp at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, or you can buy one yourself, to marvel at in your own home. With a white marble base, a stainless steel arc and a height-adjustable shade, this floor lamp is said to be inspired by street lights. It'll definitely make a statement.View Deal

9. Eames Chair by Charles & R.Eames

Eames Chair by Charles & R.Eames | £7,860 £6,681 at Heal's
There's no piece of furniture more iconic than the Eames chair – and no, we are not talking about the Eiffel model for once. This lounge chair and ottoman provides the perfect space for kicking back with your favourite tipple and a book. It's upholstered in cowhide leather and its design nods a well-used baseball glove. A mid-century modern classic...View Deal

10. Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe & Lilly Reich

Barcelona Chair | £6,720 £5,712 at The Conran Shop
Comfortable, stylish and one of the most celebrated designs of all time, the Barcelona Chair is made from cowhide with a polished chrome structure, hand-buffed to a mirror finish. Designed in 1929, it's an ideal lounge chair, and you can get a matching ottoman to pop your feet up.View Deal

Find more info at Heal’s.