Cover The Vitra HAL lounge chair and ottoman by Jasper Morrison feature rounded forms for optimum comfort

“Design is not (about) fashionable trends; I think about it more like an idea that will age well,” says British designer Jasper Morrison. Here, he shares more about how he creates purposeful everyday objects that capture the simple joys of ordinary life

Additional reporting by Hong Xinying. 

There is an unassuming, almost anonymous simplicity to the work of British industrial designer Jasper Morrison. With the intention to celebrate the beauty of the ordinary, Morrison’s “super normal” creations have won plaudits for their ease of use and understated style.

“There are better ways to design than putting a big effort into making something look special... Special things demand attention for the wrong reasons, interrupting potentially good atmosphere with their awkward presence,” wrote Morrison in an essay for Super Normal, a book he co-authored with Japanese architect Naoto Fukasawa. “The ‘super normal’ object is the result of a long tradition of evolutionary advancement in the shape of everyday things, not attempting to break with the history of form but rather trying to summarise it, knowing its place in the society of things.”

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By understanding the material history of how objects and design archetypes like the armchair or wall lamp came to be, Morrison makes their form even more elegant while capturing the essence of what is functionally necessary; his unobtrusive furniture and decor collections look to be as well-placed in a museum, a home, or an office.

For his latest collaboration with Swiss manufacturer Vitra, Morrison designed an armchair that is attentive to the growing importance of the home office. Launched during Denmark’s 3 Days of Design festival in Copenhagen, the new HAL lounge chair and ottoman enrich the vast Vitra collection with pared-down forms made for a relaxing and prolonged recline after a long day of telecommuting. We met up with the designer in the Danish capital, and learned more about his signature style and his latest project.

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What was your thought process behind the new HAL lounge chair?

Jasper Morrison (JM): The design of this armchair required a lengthy gestation. I worked a lot on it, keeping in mind how much our lives have changed during the lockdown, including our perception of the space which we live in, when we all had to stay all day inside our homes.

A new need has emerged, which may have previously seemed trivial: having sofas and armchairs that are extremely comfortable, because we have to use (them) throughout the day, and not just when we get home in the evening. So, my primary objective was to provide a compact, lightweight and extremely comfortable chair for reading or just plain lounging on.

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What are the elements that distinguish this chair design?

JM: My creation is not characterised by a strikingly new or fashionable design, but instead represents the update and perfection of a familiar typology. Thanks to its understated aesthetic, the HAL lounge chair is extremely versatile and suitable for use at home or in public spaces, and can stand either alone, in pairs, or in groups. 

Despite its compact dimensions, the lounge chair is exceptionally comfortable: it comes with loose seat and neck cushions, or with integrated cushions. It can be paired with the HAL ottoman, allowing the user to enjoy its full comfort with their feet up. Both the HAL lounge chair and ottoman come with removable covers for easy cleaning and replacement, in keeping with Vitra’s strategy of maximising the lifespan of its products.

What does good design mean to you?

JM: Design is not (about) fashionable trends; I think about it more like an idea that will age well. The strength of the design becomes increasingly evident over time, when other more attention-grabbing contemporary creations have long faded into decline.

Vitra's collections are available at W. Atelier in Singapore.

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