The iconic allure of the Imola Chair
With its sweeping curves juxtaposed against sharp angles, you’d be forgiven for thinking of BoConcept’s Imola Chair as a piece of art. According to the chair’s designer, however, it isn’t. In an interview for the Danish lifestyle brand’s 2019 catalogue, Henrik Pedersen states that “design is the opposite of art,” continuing, “An artist is about expressing him or herself - no compromise. A designer is a facilitator - a midwife to a concept you could say.”
Henrik facilitated the Imola in 2009 and, to my surprise, it wasn’t actually to brief. At the time, BoConcept wanted a completely different product, but Henrik gave them the Imola as somewhat of a wild card. Everyone loved it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“When we were first shown the prototype we were blown away, but sceptical on whether there was a place for it in peoples’ homes,” smiles BoConcept Newcastle’s design manager, Emma Dickinson. Little did they know, that having an accent or feature chair would become de rigeur… “The Danes love a chair,” Emma continues. “Matching armchairs and sofas are so boring, right?”
Up until yesterday, I had a matching armchair and sofa and, I have to admit, it really rather bothered me. Little did I know, that I would win an Imola Chair in a fabric of my choosing, thanks to attending BoConcept’s event with Kate Watson-Smyth of Mad About The House.
I was invited in to the Newcastle concession by director, Richard Wingfield upon picking my jaw up off the floor, having found out I’d won. And, on a cold evening in late-November, I chatted to interior designer, Paige Lau about what might work in my home. At BoConcept, you see, every person you meet is a trained interior specialist - meaning they can help you with everything from choosing the fabric for your Imola to furnishing your whole house. The concession, itself, is #InteriorGoals with its simple yet stunning furniture styled just-so, and a real-life moodboard adorned with fabric samples, Pantone swatches and key trends for the season.
Paige really got to know my personal style, recommending this shade of velvet and that style of leg, all the while encouraging us to get tactile with the samples, which are available to view in every single colour way, fabric and patina imaginable. In the end, we opted for the navy velvet Imola with brass legs; I’d glimpsed a photo of this particular combination on Instagram and, let me tell you, it was love at first sight.
The whole ordering process was a joy and, before I knew it, I was on my merry way, with an estimated delivery date of late-January. ‘Why so long?’ you might be wondering. Quite simply: it takes time to craft an icon. “I’ve seen one being made, and the strength needed to pull the [fabric] is amazing,” Emma tells me. And it’s not just any Tom, Dick or Harry who is skilled enough to make an Imola. In fact, there are only four craftsmen in the world who are qualified to undertake the physically-demanding process, which requires years of expertise and a meticulous eye for detail. It’s no wonder the wait is so long.
By the time D-day arrived, I was beside myself with excitement. The day began, as not many days do, with my bathroom being flooded to within an inch of its life, for the second time in a month, by my upstairs neighbour. So, when Matty and Lee came a-knocking, all smiles and excellent service, I was a whole rollercoaster of emotions. Luckily, they were the perfect antidote to my terrible morning, and were only too happy to assemble my chair whilst chatting away about one of my favourite subjects: my cat.
Now, as first impressions go, I was head-over-heels. Dominating yet understated, soft yet abstract, the chair was a dream. Constructed with the plushest of velvets with an inner core of moulded foam, it was like sitting on a cloud. “I’m the perfect size to snuggle up in one,” Emma agrees, adding, “It’s exactly how the designer wanted it.” Without a single, straight edge to it, the Imola is all dramatic curves; inspired by a tennis ball, when you look at the design from the side you can see, quite clearly, the shape and lines of the ball.
In its 10th year, the Imola is just as iconic as the day it was designed. In celebration of the first decade of many to come, BoConcept have released a limited-run of all-black, velvet editions. Each one is numbered, with a brass plaque underneath, and comes complete with a certificate. I can’t help but wonder whether Henrik knew how much of a success his design would turn out to be. “The success of a living chair is in the eye of the beholder,” he says. “In my opinion, a good living chair needs to be comfortable. I want it to be a place of relaxation.” I smile to myself as I type this, with my feet tucked beneath my knees, and the embrace of the Imola giving me endless comfort. I think I know why it’s been so successful after all…
I won an Imola Chair in my choice of fabric by attending BoConcept Newcastle’s Mad About The House event. A huge thank you to the whole team at BoConcept Newcastle for their outstanding attention-to-detail and service with a smile. Discover more by visiting the BoConcept website.
Don’t forget to follow me on my journey of re-vamping my little flat on North Shields Fish Quay. Come and say hi @flatonthefishquay.