Sitting Pretty: Luxury Is Back and So Is the Velvet Club Tub Chair

Take a seat on this maximalist 1970s throne.

by Tyler Watamanuk
Mar 29 2019, 1:17pm

Photo via Coming Soon New York.

For the past decade, minimalistic décor been the dominating interior style for the young and aesthetically inclined. Scandinavian design and Kinfolk’s Instagram became the era’s guiding principles when it came time for many to fill their apartments and houses with furniture and home goods. It turns out, you actually might be able to thank the Great Recession for all that minimalism. Either way, we’ve only just started to see a backside towards the bold and maximalist. And there has been one chair that keeps popping up, seemingly from relative obscurity: the Club Tub chair.

Designed during the early-to-mid 1970s by Joan Burgasser for Thonet, the Club Tub chair is like a funky piece of art deco that you can sit in. Tubular steel forms a playful-yet-luxurious cantilever silhouette and the armchair’s seat is round and plus. It feels like the type of chair might pair well with a mirrored coffee table that might still have the residue from a line of cocaine. Burgasser’s Club Tub chair is rich and lavish, and might skew a little over-the-top for some, but remains to be one fabulous-looking chair. The original productions mostly included leather or velvet finishes, but today’s market seems to be leaning wholly into the chair’s most sumptuous tendencies.

Coming Soon, the highly curated and beautifully art directed store located in downtown Manhattan, recently styled a baby blue velvet version of the armchair with a French bulldog puppy and a shimmering disco ball. Other recent online listings of the chair include silver velvet and teal mohair finishes. This isn’t a chair you usually seen wrapped in a subdued color or fabric—it was designed to be dressed up in the best and the brightest. The Club Tub chair just happens to have found itself in a serendipitous design moment, one where velvet reigns supreme.

Earlier this year, the real-estate and design website Curbed declared that velvet furniture was on the rise. The popular home design and decor blog Apartment Therapy made a similar claim. Certain furniture was made to be decked out in opulent-looking velvet: tufted mid-century sofas and ornate dining chairs. The Club Tub chair also falls into this category. For Curbed, writer Rachel del Valle wrote: “Velvet makes one think of European royalty, the Victorian era, the opulent ’70s. Inviting a piece of velvet furniture into your living room is a way of giving yourself a daily indulgence.” To say that adding a velvet-lined Club Tub chair would add a splash of grandeur to any home is an understatement.

Burgasser played a vital role at Thonet, acting as both the company’s design director and marketing executive throughout her career. In 1975, she launched the New Design Program and commissioned acclaimed designers like Don Pettit, Warren Snodgrass, and David Rowland to produce furniture for Thonet. She also designed the Manhattan showroom. While she may not have been a designer by trade, her Club Tub chair certainly held its own back then—and continues to do so today, luxurious velvet and all.

interior decor