It's no secret that I am a little obsessed with 70s design. Of all the wild and wonderful ideas to come out of the 70s — shag carpeting! crazy graphics! green appliances! — my favorite is the crazy ways in which 70s designers redefined furniture: hanging things from the ceiling, creating weird conversational groupings that were half architecture, half couch, and even coming up with shapes and pieces that in no way resembled anything ever seen before. Here are some of the best (read: strangest) designs to come out of that best of decades.
Above: This is the apartment of Italian designer Joe Colombo, from Vitra Design Museum via Design is Fine. I would not venture to say what the thing on the left is (although it sort of resembles a giant DUPLO piece), but the piece on the right appears to be a sort of lounge/table kind of thing. There are no backrests, requiring you to drape yourself dramatically while watching TV or contemplating how one room could possibly be so purple, but that seems about par for the course for the 70s. And there's storage underneath, so it's really quite practical.
As further proof that strange lounging things were big in the 70s, here's a couch/bed/book shelf creation from The House Book by Terrence Conran, via Fox & Thomas. Notice how the carpet wraps the ends of the couch, making it into a part of the room and not just a piece of furniture.
The 70s were also the heyday of the conversation pit, another delight that was part furniture, part architectural feature. Here's an especially detailed example, with a little nook for conversations-within-conversations, spotted on 20th Century Home.
Also from 20th Century Home is this staircase/ampitheater/seating scheme that defies categorization. The 70s were truly a wonderful time.
The sunball chair, designed by Gunter Ferdinand Ris & Herbert Selldorf in 1969, looks a bit like the adult version of this wacky kids' IKEA chair. Unfortunately, if you dream of having one of these in your own backyard, you're probably SOL unless you've got quite a bit of cash — nowadays, they sell for many thousands of dollars. Spotted on Meggomania.
Here it is... the sectional to end all sectionals, positioned on an appropriately shaggy shag carpet. Spotted on Reader's Digest.
Looking at this sofa is so overwhelming for me, it's hard to even know what to say about it. This is the 'Safari' sofa by Archizoom, with seating for six (matching outfits optional). Spotted on Elastique.
The living tower, by Verner Panton, is one of my favorite pieces of furniture, and really one of my favorite designs, of any kind, of all time. It functions as a sofa, I suppose, but you couldn't really call it a sofa — more like a climbing tower/perch. The most amazing perch in the world. Image from Panton World.
What is this?, you may ask. Perhaps a better question is: what isn't this? It's a bed, it's a delightful architectural feature, it's wall art, it's lighting, it's hidden storage, it's a crazy fever dream come to wondrous and slightly malevolent life. I don't think I could ever sleep here, but it's certainly the most memorable bedroom I've seen. Spotted on Vintage-a-Peel.
Compared to all the other things going on here, this hanging bed, from House and Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration (1970), seems downright tame. But it's still a swinging daybed hanging from the ceiling, so that's pretty groovy.