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T’s 25 Most Defining Pieces of Furniture From the Last 100 Years: Everything We Considered

Before sitting down to debate the 25 most defining pieces of furniture from the past 100 years, all six panelists — the curator Paola Antonelli; T’s design and interiors director, Tom Delavan; the actress and furniture collector Julianne Moore; the artist Katie Stout; and the architects and designers Daniel Romualdez and Rafael de Cárdenas — were asked to nominate about 10 objects apiece from which the list would be winnowed down. When coming up with his selections, Romualdez rightly figured that the others would include what he called “the anointed chairs.” Like Antonelli, he wanted to surprise readers, while also incorporating objects that, he says, “had become part of the vernacular.”

So concerned were the panelists not to make too many glaring omissions that Antonelli, who’d already titled the finished story in her head — “Furniture for and From the Real World” — even suggested publishing two lists. But the group was under strict orders to stick to one, with 25 entries only. And there was, we decided, an argument to be made for controlled chaos; like good design itself, the list is bound by neither price nor process. As an image of the final object — Verner Panton’s 1990s Vilbert chair — was added atop the pile of yeses, Antonelli appraised the victors and nodded. “This is good,” she said. But without their knowing where we started, perhaps readers wouldn’t truly be able to appreciate where we ended. With that in mind, here’s almost every sofa, stool and chair (even the interior of an airplane), presented in chronological order by picker, that the jurors brought to the table.


Donald Judd’s Single Daybed 32 (1978).Credit…San Francisco Museum of Modern Art/Bridgeman Images. Donald Judd Furniture © 2024 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Julianne Moore’s list:

1. Marcel Breuer, cantilever chair, 1928

2. Axel Einar Hjorth, Utö coffee table, circa 1930s

3. George Nakashima, Slab I coffee table, circa 1950

4. Le Corbusier, LC14 Tabouret Cabanon, 1952

5. Charles and Ray Eames, molded plastic side chair, 1952

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