Exhibition Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

6 Surrealist Chairs from #ObjectsOfDesire

From a giant eye sculpture that doubles as a chair to one inspired by a child's game - Surrealist furniture comes in all shapes and form. Extravagant, mind-boggling and highly symbolic, here's our top picks of Surrealist chairs from #ObjectsOfDesire.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

La Mamma by Gaetano Pesce

Italian architect and designer's iconic foam chair 'La Mamma' represents a female figure with a ball, symbolising the weight of centuries of male prejudice where he saw women as prisoners. Despite initially looking curvy and comfy, the act of sitting in this chair makes a statement.

Le Témoin (The Witness) by Man Ray

Once you're tired of seeing the large eye, this sculpture can be turned over into a sofa. Man Ray designed this as part of the 1971 'Ultramobile' furniture collection with other Surrealist artists, and this seat-sculpture is a ‘presence that pulsates and breathes in your home’.

Conquest by Nina Saunders

Saunders’ furniture-based sculptures have a ghostly presence - their melting, bulging forms seem to suggest unpredictable forces at play. Her work is inspired by second-hand domestic furniture due of its place in family, and she often introduces comical and challenging narratives to her sculptures.

Miss Blanche by Shiro Kuramata

Named after the fragile character of Blanche DuBois from Tennessee Williams’ play 'A Streetcar Named Desire', this chair conveys Blanche’s unstable sense of reality in a tragic story shot through with beauty and delusion, seduction and violence.

Etruscan chair by Danny Lane

Alongside Ron Arad and other designers, Danny Lane broke new ground by creating furniture from overlooked industrial materials. His anarchic process of ‘bricolage’ often uses broken glass to make dynamic, irregular forms.

Cat's Cradle chair by Salvador Dalí and Edward James

This dream-like chair is named after the child’s game of Cat’s Cradle, played with looped string between the fingers. Salvador Dalí designed this chair with art collector Edward James, who was fascinated by the ‘Dance of the Hands’ performed by Tilly Losch (his wife at the time) and Hedy Pfundmayer.

The exhibition

Book now: Opens 14 October 2022

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

Discover the dreamlike relationship between Surrealism and design – a Vitra Design Museum Exhibition.


What is Surrealism and why it matters now

Curator Kathryn Johnson explains the story behind surrealism and its impact on design in this video produced in collaboration with Dezeen.

Watch time: 4 min 26 sec

A Surrealist day out in London

Inspired by the fantastical and wacky world of Surrealism we’ve put together the perfect day out in London. Follow our fun guide of places.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Photography credits: Andy Stagg and Suzanne Zhang