Reader Ann Richardson emailed us her selection for inclusion in our ever-growing Annals of Bad Design: Blu Dot’s Cat’s Pajama Chair. Her thoughtful commentary that made us laugh, as good dishing of bad design does:
This chair is described as “surprisingly comfortable.” It looks so uncomfortable that any degree of actual comfort would be a surprise. And no matter how comfortable it actually is, I bet it doesn’t sell well. It looks so uncomfortable I wouldn’t even be willing to give it a test run, let alone buy it.
And the photos in the ad are strange. The proportions seem off. At first I thought it was a love seat and I imagined people sitting on it angled toward each other with just their head touching. Awkward. Not a single photo in the ad shows a person actually sitting in this supposedly comfortable chair. As if the models refused, or looked uncomfortable.
And the last line of the ad is odd. It is “All the best adjectives apply.” I guess the copywriter was so smitten with the chair that he/she was rendered speechless and couldn’t come up with any adjectives.
I confess I went to the website to learn more about this item (I can’t bear to call it a chair—a chair should invite one to sit and this creation doesn’t). On the website I learned that the chair costs $499 AND that assembly is required. Is it just me, or should a $499 chair come assembled?
Some designer went through A LOT of trouble to bring the Cat’s Pajama Chair to market, and no doubt, months of iterations to get it just right. We wonder what they thought was “just right“. If it is in fact a one person chair, either you’re sitting on one side at a slant, or in the middle with your butt rather crazily…er…split. Two people would indeed be angled toward each other, as Ann points out. Could it be that the designer just likes the way it looks?
UPDATE: In response to the Reader comment “Please don’t review something for comfort which you’ve never sat it. As you said, the designers put a lot of work into getting it right”… I stopped in at Blu Dot in Soho and sat on the chair. Here is the upshot:
It is not a comfortable chair, though more bearable than it looks. Although there is no visual orientation in Blu Dot’s catalogue photos to know how big the chair is — no humans are in the photos for reference—, in reality it is a strictly one-person, strangely skimpy chair. (Had I play-acted with the specs beforehand, I would have realized this).
The center slant is not as hard on the butt as I imagined it would be, though definitely still feels odd. The center slant on the back of the chair IS problematic: I felt it as lack up support, a feeling that may have been exacerbated by the low height of the back, which is a good 2 inches lower than several rather minimalist mid-century chairs I measured. The chair proved REALLY hard on the back of my leg due to a the sharpish metal frame that sits proud of the cushion.
The upshot: Unless you just like the way it looks and don’t care about how it feels, the $500 it cost would be better spent on a better-designed chair.
The $39 Ikea Nolmyra chair is an example of what’s possible for little money. It has clean lines, is easy to move and comfortable to sit in. Its fabric cover can be removed and washed…or swapped out altogether.
It’s base and frame hold lots of possibilities for hacking…