Alternative Materials in Today’s Modern Furniture Designs

Modern Furniture Designs 2019

The Alvarae Bath in Blue

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Alternative Modern Furniture Designs of 2019

Basically any material from an upturned orange box to a plastic bucket could be considered as using alternative materials in furniture design. As both would be considered to meet the Cambridge Dictionary definition of furniture “ things such as chairs, tables, beds, cupboards etc. that are put into a house or other building to make it suitable and comfortable for living and working in”

Obviously these two examples may not meet everybody’s idea of comfort level but at least both would be classed as being functional. However, in my mind, these are simply examples of recycling as opposed to what I would consider to be true examples of the use of alternative materials.

For me true examples mix the use of alternative materials with the traditional to create the very best in today’s modern furniture design. With that in mind I have looked at three alternative materials that meet this criteria but are all different in so many ways. However, collectively they have been used to create stunning individual pieces of furniture.

First let’s consider concrete, used primarily in the construction of buildings as opposed to providing a living room center -piece.  But concrete furniture design is evolving rapidly and is making an appearance inside the contemporary home.

For sometime now the use of polished cast concrete counters in the kitchen have been in vogue. But people like the American artist and designer Nico Yetai are mixing the old with the new to create functional sculptures if that makes sense? No longer does he restrict the use of concrete to a simple grey slab. He uses reinforced concrete to its maximum potential by interweaving it with softer materials such as Walnut and stainless steel. So turning grey into white to create modern art for the home.



Likewise renowned furniture designer Peter Harrison is bringing the material into the home with his very own modern touch. However, in Peter’s case he likes to keep constructed concrete in its natural form so that he can enhance it further with the use of stainless steel, aluminum and mahogany to punctuate his clean minimalist looks that he is renown for.

In both cases each designer use alternative materials in their truest forms mixed with traditional materials to embrace the furniture they want to create.

Whilst concrete is at one end of the alternative materials spectrum then at the other end there is metal and the options that it has to offer.

Take iron and steel once only considered for its use in building foundations. Yet as wrought iron, extraordinary pieces of intricate design and Art Nouveau were created and are continually embraced today as perfect examples of a world gone by.

Likewise several designers have taken that core intricate metal design to create modern day furniture examples including; the legendary designer Tom Dixon.

Amongst his earliest designs is the extraordinary Pylon range of chairs and tables. Created in the early 90’s and developed from a latticework of 3mm diameter steel rods. Which were then triangulated to create both a visual appearance and maximum strength that together delivered an exercise in pure unadorned structure.

Today the artist Annie Evelyn looks at steel amongst others from a completely different perspective. For her it’s about mixing individual and almost opposite materials to create the greatest of effects. If steel is everything industrial and flowers are surely all about natural beauty color and light then how could they work as furniture?

Well for that question to be answered look no further than intricacies of her work. She employs a range of alternative materials (from handmade paper flowers to Swarovski Crystals) and processes them to include; tessellating individual Nickel scale pieces to create soft upholstered seating. She also creates pieces that are embedded with fresh cut flowers to add aroma to the level of comfort.

Other users of steel and iron that have left their mark in this sector for using this core industrial material includes the ultra modern Cow Chair created by Tanked Studio.

Of course other examples of the uses of metal has to include stainless steel, and there cannot be two greater examples that portray the use of this material than the Brno Chair by Mies van der Rohe which was designed at the start of the 30’s and based on the idea that it is not necessary for a chair to have four legs when it can be built in a cantilever-style, using a single C-shaped bar to support the entire seat.

Plus the star of every modern office today – the legendary Barcelona chair collection. Which was also designed by Mies van der Rohe in conjunction with Lilly Reich. Initially the chair frame was created in metal and bolted together to form one piece. However, it was redesigned in 1950’s using stainless steel, allowing it to be formed from one seamless piece of metal.

Whilst all of the materials mentioned so far come from industrial and construction background and have been available to designers for many years. I now want to turn your attention to Hi-Tech Carbon Fibre.



Derived from technology and really only started life, as we know it back in the 60’s. It was used primarily in the design of aircraft construction including the Space Shuttle and then later the automotive industry. Carbon Fibre continues to have an integral role in so many industries and products that feature in our daily life. It is also a material that is very much at home in the hands of custom-made luxury furniture makers and avant-garde interior designer’s.   

Two such makers of luxury furniture that specialize in the use of Carbon Fibre would include; the British based design company ‘Splinter Worksbest known for their sophisticated sculptured luxury Hammock free standing bath and the Hong Kong based Alvarae Design Studio. 

Whilst the design team at Splinter Works have limited their use of carbon fibre to baths and wash hand basins.  Alvarae have pushed on to create a luxury lifestyle collection of carbon fibre pieces that becomes the focal point for every room in the home and the bathroom.

The Alvarae approach to the use of Carbon Fibre is similar in many ways to a tailor creating a custom made piece. They very much believe that carbon fibre should be treated in the same way that you would treat a roll of very expensive fabric and that it should be draped and formed to find its own center.

They also believe that the hard edges typically associated with carbon fibre can be softened by incorporating softer natural materials into the finished designs, such as wood and leather along with the introduction of a colour a palette.

Alvarae is brand extension of the RevoZport Racing Technology Group one of the leading manufacturers of aero kits and performance styling accessories for the luxury automotive industry. They first came to prominence with the launch of their ‘Warp Chair’ that was developed at the request of customer who wanted a custom designed chair that would reflect the styling of his very expensive Pagani supercar.

The continuous “warp” form plays a key role in the unique construction in this one of a kind Chair. It demonstrates just how durable lightweight carbon fibre can create any organic shape whilst maintaining its structural strength. The contemporary design curves in this oversized chair combined with style & comfort gives the chair a casual yet sophisticated appearance. The hollow internal base structure is perfect for storage.

The Warp Chair is designed in a choice of stylish custom finishes and colours making it the perfect addition to any ultra modern home or creative lounge space.

The Warp Chair and Pagani Supercar
The “Warp Chair” and Pagani Supercar

Following the release of the Warp Chair, Alvarae have gone on to launch their Be Daring, Be Different, Be Anything collection of Carbon Fibre custom designed luxury furniture and lifestyle accessories collection.

Amongst the collection are a number of eclectic pieces including the stunning La Baignoire Stand Alone Bathtub. This design takes several of the key characteristics of Carbon fibre and fuses them together to create something completely different in terms of form and style.


The La Baignoire Bathtub in Rose Gold
The stunning la Baignoire Bathtub

The sweeping lines and curves of the La Baignoire combine the very latest in design and technology.

Weighing less that 15kg and with the flexibility to be positioned anywhere in the room. The bath is elevated above ground by a bridge base structure made of composite materials coated with Nano Technology. The exterior of the bath can be colour coordinated to match either the bath or bathroom surroundings.



Using clever technology and concealed soft LED lighting the silhouette of the bath is picked out, allowing the interior colour choice of the bath to change to what is most relaxing for you or to reflect your mood. Colours include; Red, Blue, Green Pink, or sleek Black.

The La Baignoire has been designed to provide a spectacular focal point in any luxury bathroom and has now been complimented with the introduction the La Baignoire wash hand basin and a range of bathroom accessories.

The Alvarae collection mixes this hi-tech alternative material with more natural materials and no better example is there than the Chiquitta Bench and Stool.

The Chiquitta Bench
The Chiquitta Bench with its 1000 pegs



Designed to deceive this mixture of Carbon Fibre and up to 1000 individually milled wooden pegs surprises everyone with its amazing level of comfort.

The Chiquitta has been engineered so that each of the individual wooden pegs shift with the body form so as to heighten the level of comfort in a very individual way.  The Bench & Cube are such tactile designs, that not only do they bring a new experience in custom made seating design. They reiterate once again just how carbon fibre, can morph into organic forms and sit alongside natural materials.

The bench and cubes make a stunning feature in any home or commercial space.

Alvarae are continually looking to expand the appeal of Carbon Fibre and in an attempt to maintain a point of difference they have recently released a range of luxury Forged Carbon products including a version of the La Baignoire wash hand basin.

Forged Carbon offers a greater flexibility as a material and enables more intricate pieces to be created and this can be demonstrated by the sloping lines and a unique bowl shape gives the wash hand basin a distinctive contemporary styling that sets it apart from the more traditional wash basins. The wash hand basin like all of the Alvarae collection can be custom produced in colour to reflect the surrounding environment.

Take a look at the Alvarae Be Daring, Be Different, Be Anything collection of luxury hand made custom designed furniture.