All the Vintage Furniture Reissues Happening Right Now
Have you ever seen a piece of vintage furniture in a magazine — or in the Instagram Stories of a particularly stylish friend or influencer— and thought: “HOLY SHIT, I HAVE TO HAVE THAT NOW”? Of course you have. We all have. It’s why certain pieces from online vintage retailers like Homeunion and Bi-Rite sell out immediately, and why “caprani lamp replica” is our highest-ranking search term. It’s the same grail mentality that’s fueled a hundred IKEA reissues, the purchase of every Eames chair for the past 20 years, and, more recently, the intense popularity of things like the $10,000 Ultrafragola mirror and the Mushroom Lamp That Wouldn’t Die. It’s no wonder that furniture companies have been furiously plumbing their own archives for the next (old) big thing.
We began tracking vintage furniture reissues in earnest back in 2017, when the Norwegian company Varier reissued Ekstrem, an eccentric, postmodern spider of a chair from 1984. Then last year Artilleriet, a Swedish company, brought back the wavy 1970s Etcetera lounge chair by Jan Ekselius in a riot of colors (a chair we’ve since noticed in dozens of editorials and 3-D renderings). But things really began picking up this year with the decision by B&B Italia to rerelease the Cameleonda: a modular, ultra-tufted sofa by Mario Bellini, which was in production only from 1970 to 1978 and whose name is a portmanteau of the Italian words for chameleon and wave. Here is a sofa whose vintage specimens have literally been everywhere: in faded, scuffed leather on the cover of Domino; in nubby bouclé in a suite at the Instagram-famous Palm Heights Grand Cayman; in the sitting room of a Stella McCartney flagship. Why wouldn’t B&B try to cash in on its newfound popularity?
I spoke to Amy Auscherman, the archivist at Herman Miller, for some perspective; she knows from reissues, having been instrumental in the rerelease of Ward Bennett’s U-Series this year. Auscherman, who has been in her position for six years, says she’s never been more busy reexamining furniture from the archive for a consumer audience. “People know us as a b2b company, but as our consumer business grows, there are more opportunities to look at archival designs by designers whose names people now know.” As for why more people than ever know the names of these under-the-radar designers? “How many people know who Ray Wilkes is or what the Chiclet Sofa is because Bi-Rite posted about it?” Auscherman laughs. She considers these online arbiters almost like a new class of what was once known as a picker. “These are people — like you guys! — who have online presences who also like sharing info, whether it’s a scan from an old Architectural Digest, or a Nest… That information is more liberated than ever before, and designers and design objects from the past are being contextualized like never before.”
Check out our favorite recent reissues below.
Top image © Kasthall, styled by Kråkvik/D’Orazio