“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” So goes the William Morris quote. Timely in an era of excess, consumption and Marie Kondo telling you that you can do without. Unfortunately for William Morris, the Smeg fridge or the Chemex coffee maker were not around when he was at his most succinct.
Here at Ape, we say get yourself the household design classics that can do both. Beautiful design and a quality that supports purpose. From chairs to kitchen essentials, here are a few of our favourites.
The Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman
It’s funny to think now that the original Eames chair and ottoman were meant to be a one off. Designed to have the look of a “well-used baseman’s mitt”, the duo is undoubtedly one of the most iconic designs of the 20th century in any field. If you envisage any stylish home, whether a city penthouse or a lakeside retreat, when you imagine a comfortable corner, there’s always an Eames chair. Always.
Chemex Coffee Maker
Need some credentials to justify the purchase? How about this coffee maker being included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York? That should suffice. It’s difficult to think of other items in art galleries that are as practical as this classic kitchen essential. You don’t need to look far in popular culture for a Chemex on the counter and best of all, it makes a mean cup of Joe.
Modelled on a women’s handbag with plush leather surround and a carry handle, the Roberts radio is a quaint addition to any household. Easily recognisable, the device was originally launched in the 1930s and rose to fame thanks to being featured in various advertising campaigns, including one in 1989 for Martini. Luckily for music lovers, modern renditions feature Bluetooth, DAB and even Spotify and Apple Music connectivity.
Another design monolith, this time via Italy. Dream kitchens contain Smeg fridges, it’s as simple as that. Don’t be fooled, despite its looks – smooth curves instead of corners, glossy enamel – it wasn’t invented in the 1950s but the 1990s. It makes little difference though – it’s a delightfully stylish addition to any kitchen and it’ll keep everything perfectly chilled.
Robust leather, sunken buttons, a low profile and high arms, the trademark characteristics of one of the world’s favourite pieces of furniture, the Chesterfield sofa. When people refer to them as being timeless, they’re not over-exaggerating – it has over 300 years of history. From the homes of royalty to the wooded surroundings of private members’ clubs, since its inception the Chesterfield has never gone out of style.
Anglepoise Desk Lamp
A true British design icon, the Anglepoise desk lamp has been going strong for over 75 years, sitting pride of place in millions of homes nationwide. Its three-spring design was a revolutionary feat of small-scale engineering when it was first introduced to the market in 1932. Various iterations in colour, size and design have followed since, including a striking collaboration with esteemed designer Paul Smith.
Another kitchen classic that has been in production since the 1950s whilst standing the test of time in the style stakes. Dualit’s toasters continue to be hand-built in their Crawley factory to this day and longevity is encouraged with replaceable components. Away from its stylish looks, it’s a highly practical machine. A removable crumb tray should come as standard on every toaster, whilst a mechanical timer and manual ejector add further functionality to a timeless example of quality and design.