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Using color and shape for decorating with the Coconut Chair

Using Color and Shape for Decorating with the Coconut Chair

Introduced to the market in 1955 by Herman Miller, the Coconut Chair is a classic of modernism in furniture design and is a feature of permanent exhibitions the world over. Architect George Nelson, famed and respected for his out-of-the-box-thinking, designed this striking piece to resemble a shard of a coconut shell, which is surprisingly comfortable to sit in. Nelson said of his designs that “total design is nothing more or less than a process of relating everything to everything.” Relating all the parts of your setting will guide you to building a style which will put this iconic chair to its best use.

Using Color

o Use the white of the chair’s shell, the upholstery – usually black leather – and the chrome finish of the legs in the color theme of its setting. Carry the colors with accent pieces and accessories throughout the room.

o Choose three main colors to use in your room.

Base color. The main color of your room, this is usually represented in your walls and floors as the color covering the largest area. Use it as a canvas for your stronger colors and try to avoid using colors which distract or overpower the rest of the furnishings. Shades of whites, grays and creams work best and are won’t clash with your accents.

Focus. Use this color in your furniture. The Coconut Chair is usually covered in black leather, but a variety of other upholstery is available. This color should stand out against the backdrop of your base and focus attention on your highlights – in this case, the furniture. Match the same color in some of your plain or functional accessories, but don’t overdo it or your room will feel cluttered.

Accent. A burst of color in your artworks, window dressings or ornaments will add to the depth of the room. Lamp shades, place mats and other small ticket items can be replaced regularly to breathe new life and add a different feel to the room.

Using Shapes

o Lines. The coconut chair has a visually strong design. It shows off straight lines and triangles with its chromed legs and sides to accentuate its form.

Background. Using square or rectangular shapes in the background will frame the shape of the chair and bring it into focus in the room. These shapes occur in the forms of your windows, walls, drapes and wall-coverings. Adding a chair rail to a blank wall will give an appearance of more space. Vertical blinds will bring the illusion of greater height in the room.


o Using rectangular designs in accompanying sofas to accentuate the shape of the Coconut Chair. Keep the upholstery of both chair and sofa the same or in matching colors.

o Using oval or elliptical shapes in the choice of coffee- or side tables will take the edge off of all the lines and corners of your squares and triangles and compliment the smooth arcs in the design of the chair.

Don’t rush the completion of your room – like its owner; it will require something new and personal from time to time. Let your style evolve over time by seeking out décor that reflects your personal taste.