Modern furniture ideas – from age-old classics to the latest furniture trends

From the Eames Lounge Chair to the Togo Sofa, this is our edit of the best pieces of modern furniture from the past century – and how to style them in a modern home...

When it comes to modern furniture ideas, there are certain iconic styles that are weaved into the very fabric of design history that are still on-trend today. These are the modern furniture design classics to look for if you want to invest in a piece of design history that will continue to stay fresh.

Discover some of the most recognisable modern furniture design classics below... Because an iconic piece never goes out of style.

From the mid-century curves of the Eames Lounge Chair to the Scandi chic of the Wishbone Chair, discover iconic modern classic designs below.

1. The Eames Lounge Chair And Ottoman

The epitome of mid-century modern furniture, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman are design classics. They were first released in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company.

Crafted with plywood and leather, the company describes it as 'a universally recognised form that brings comfort and style to interiors everywhere'. Indeed, the Eameses’ modern take on a 19th century club chair has endured for more than 60 years. And it has become one of the most iconic modern furniture designs ever made.

See Also: A Georgian Home Is Updated With Crittall Doors And A Playful Palette

2. Togo Sofa

In 1973 as the first beats of disco pumped through New York's underground nightclubs, the party-friendly Togo Sofa was born. Designer Michel Ducaroy, who had been with Ligne Roset since the Fifties, broke the mould with this flexible creation, inventing the first all-foam-filled sofa, with no frame or sharp edges in sight. The Togo was an instant success and remains the iconic sofa for slouching about on.

Instantly recognisable from its distinctive shape, the Togo is constructed from multiple density polyether foam and quilted covers. And Now a Ligne Roset cult classic.

Get the look: Keep the party vibe going with faux fur pouffes and cushions, glamorous gold furniture and neon light slogan wall art.

See Also:Sofa Experts Reveal The Top 3 Sofa Trends You Need To Know For AW20

3. Saarinen Tulip Table

Describing table legs as 'ugly and confusing' Finnish-American designer Eero Saarinen created his Pedestal collection, including the Saarinen Tulip Table as a solution; the single stem connected to a curved base opened up space under the table and provides a cleaner, more organic look.

The Pedestal collection seemed wildly futuristic when it was introduced in 1956, but the versatile design has remained fresh for decades, and could range from a round side table to an oval dining table.

Not only is the table itself able to blend into any aesthetic or environment, but the modern design can also be produced in a wide range of materials for the surface, furthering its adaptability and appeal among designer furniture fans.

Get the look: Surround it with matching tulip chairs for an ultra designer finish. Available to buy from £7,272 at The Conran Shop.

See Also:Modern Interior Design – a guide to modern interior styles and design

4. Wishbone Chair

Designed by Hans J Wegner in 1949, the Wishbone Chair actually evolved from Wegner’s earlier Chinese chair. So ancient Eastern furniture formed the basis of this bestselling Scandi classic.

The sensual curve of the back legs, which have been manipulated by steam, tapers to the join of the circular back rail in. However delicate this chair appears, it is crafted expertly to provide comfort and endurance. The Wishbone Chair was also the first collaborative effort between Wegner and Carl Hansen. And he has been the driving force behind the Wishbone’s mass production since 1950. Buy from £443 at Heal's.

Modern furniture design classics

Get the look: Pair with a neutral colour scheme for that minimal, Nordic look. Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chairs from Skandium. The Murano glass light, right, is from For similar, try The polished-concrete floor is by Steyson Granolithic Contractors.

See Also: Small Dining Room Ideas

5. Barcelona Chair

The Knoll Barcelona Chair was designed by Lilly Reich and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. It's now one of the most celebrated modern furniture design classics of all time. The Barcelona Chair was designed to offer a decadent and comfortable resting place for the King of Spain. And it was created for his visit to the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929.

Get the look: The portraits are from Gagosian Gallery and Michael Hue-Williams, who runs Albion Barn in Oxfordshire. These are Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs for Knoll. Available from £6,324 at The Conran Shop.

See Also:Mid-Century Modern Furniture – your complete guide

6. Ercol Origins Studio Couch

Ercol has been making classic, timeless pieces of furniture since 1920. Designed by Lucian Ercolani, the Ercol Studio Couch was first introduced in the late 1950s. It was designed to function both as a large sofa and an occasional single bed for guests. It features characteristic steam bent arms and is made from solid ash.

modern furniture design classics

Get the look: Pair with contemporary metal storage cabinets for a modern take on the look. Available from £2265 at Barker & Stonehouse.

See Also:How To Get The Mid-Century Modern Look In A Modern Home

7. Chesterfield Sofa

The Chesterfield sofa is a design classic famous for its low back, rolled arms and deep buttoning. The style was once the domain of gentleman's clubs and country houses but is now just as at-home in modern industrial flats.

It's believed its origins date back to the the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Phillip Stanhope. It's believed he wanted to commission a sofa that allowed gentlemen to comfortably sit upright without winkling their clothes.

Get the look: Try Darlings of Chelsea for similar Chesterfield sofa. The antique chandelier was found at Jonathan Burden LLC. Try Rainbow for similar. This is the Bear Chair by Hans J Wegner for Johannes Hansen. Try for Wegner classics. The leather pouf is from Mecox Gardens. John Lewis sells similar. The cushions and colourful rug, opposite, are by Nanette Lepore Villa.

See Also:Modern homes – a guide to modern architectural styles and design

8. The Four-Poster Bed

The four-poster bed is a design classic that's medieval in origin. However, it has been reinvented time and again for modern homes. Heal's has reimagined the four-poster bed for its new heritage collection. The emblem of a four-poster bed was erected outside Heal's flagship store on Tottenham Court Road in the 1920s. The new Marlow Bed is a 21st century interpretation of the classic.

modern furniture design classics

Get the look: For a fresh and refined look, opt for white sheets to create a canvas for colourful throws and cushions, which can be easily updated as the seasons change. Available from £2,119 at Heal's.

See Also:Fabulous Four Poster Bed Ideas for modern bedrooms

9. Goldfinger Lounge Chair

The glamorous Goldfinger Lounge Chair by Jonathan Adler is a more contemporary furniture design classic. It will add a modernist vibe to any abode, and is described as 'the definition of leaned-back luxury—a little bit '70s, a lot today'.

modern furniture design classics

Get the look: Try the 'Channelled' version for ultra-comfy cushions. Available at Jonathan Adler for £2,150.

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10. Series 7 Chair

The Series 7 chair has to be the chair that summed up the 20th century. Designed in 1955 by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen for the design company Fritz Hansen, the plywood chairs haveremained popular for six decades – a period of profound changes in technology, culture and lifestyle.

The hourglass figure of the light, stackable chair came to epitomise modernity, although the cinched-in waist was also for practical reasons.

The chair became iconic after Lewis Morley’s photo of a naked Christine Keeler straddling it – or, rather, a high-street fake – came to epitomise the swinging Sixties.

Get the look: The Series 7 chair is perfect for adding a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral kitchen. Available for £349 from The Conran Shop.

See Also:Modern home extension ideas – from side returns and conservatories to lofts and basements

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.