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Coquille Chair Like a shell washed ashore by the waves – a beautiful visitor from another world

Coquille Chair

The birth of Coquille

On a symbolic level, our design was inspired by one of the best-loved paintings of the Italian Renaissance: Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It depicts the goddess of love being wafted to shore on a giant scallop shell (a coquille, in French). The scallop is both delicious delicacy and popular design motif. Used since prehistoric times as ornaments, jewelry and sometimes even money, seashells have a long history as elements in architecture and design. Scallop shells are also a symbol of pilgrimage and life’s journey: the story starts, like Venus’ tale, when the shell touches the shore. Our chair evokes this feeling of arrival and hopeful new beginnings.

Modernist models

The original model for Coquille was the classic modernist bent wood and rattan bistro chair. How could we interpret this icon design for the present time, adapting its natural lines and intuitive, organic form? Our partner in this project, Lensvelt furniture company, was mindful of the pandemic and wanted a chair that could be used outdoors as well as inside. This preference for versatility suggested tubular steel – a material loved by modernists since Marcel Breuer. Of course, the shiny reflective metal also echoes the fluid quality of water – perfect for giving form to our shell chair.