Second Look: Lounge Acts

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Mid-20th-century designers had a field day with the humble chair. George Nelson transformed it into a sleek triangle on slim metal legs; Verner Panton streamlined it into a heart-shaped silhouette on a stainless steel base; and Harry Bertoia fashioned one from a lattice of welded steel rods. While stunning, the chairs didn’t always look comfortable, even if they were.

Against this backdrop, the Brazilian designer Sergio Rodrigues submitted Mole (pronounced “mo-lay”) to an international design competition in Italy in 1961. The chair, which is fitted with leather straps secured by wooden studs to allow sitters to adjust for the contours of their bodies, is even more comfortable than it appears. Mole won first place. “The Mole was the first truly, completely Brazilian design piece, free from any European references and trends,” says Nicolau Vergueiro, art director at Espasso, a boutique specializing in Brazilian furniture.

The chair and its ottoman ($11,100 and $3,350, respectively) are available through Espasso and enliven the living room of the Brazilian property in this issue (see “Beauty and the Beach,” page 54). Other triumphs from Rodrigues include the Voltaire chair ($14,450) and the Xibô lamp ($2,900).

Espasso, 212.219.0017, www.espasso.com

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