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What Is a Rose Chair?

By Marlene de Wilde
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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The rose chair was developed by Japanese industrial designer Masanori Umeda for the Italian firm Edra in 1990. The soft velvet cushions, each one hand-sewn in the shape of layered petals, give the chair its characteristic shape. Valued at more than $7,000 as of 2011, the sumptuous rose chair, which bears no resemblance to traditional armchairs, is considered haute couture.

With three layers of petals, the overall impression is of a deep, complex rose. The legs are made of brushed aluminum, and the inside of the cushions consists of polyurethane foam. The modern distinctive design is typical of the Edra range, which includes bright, imaginative pieces that are also fun.

Umeda was born in 1941, and after studying design in Tokyo, he went to Italy, where he worked for various design companies such as Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and Olivetti. In 1968, when he was only 27 years old, Umeda won the Braun Prize, which was followed by other awards in the '80s and '90s, such as the Grand Prix Design Awards in Japan.

In 1986, he returned to Japan to work for himself and opened his own business in Tokyo called U-Meta Design, which focuses mainly on industrial design. The work he did for Edra in 1990 and 1991 included two florally inspired armchairs: the getsuen, in the shape of a lily, and the rose chair. He has continued this theme with his anemone-inspired stool for the Japanese company Toyo Kitchen Style. His imaginative works have been collected by art and design museums all over the world.

Umeda also worked for the avant garde design movement called Memphis, which was launched in Milan in 1981. Memphis is known for its bright colors and decorative design outlook, which, though modern, is not minimal and seeks to experiment and innovate. This approach is echoed in Umeda's rose chair, where the most traditional rose gets a humorous modern make-over.

The rose chair is the result of expert craftsmanship combined with high technology. Underneath the lavish exterior beats a heart of molded steel and shaped wood in the form of a frame. The Italian firm of Edra promotes the use of hand-made quality with innovation and technology, as well as a contemporary approach to traditional handicrafts.

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