The Lap of Luxury

Patrick Norguet’s Orly armchair for Bernhardt melds Parisian style with American comfort.

For the past few years Bernhardt Design, a 113-year-old family-owned firm based in Lenoir, North Carolina, has been making waves in the design world by creating simple, durable, and timeless pieces with the collaboration of designers such as Fabien Baron, Mark Goetz, and Lauren Rottet.

This year the company will be launching works by designers including Tyler Brûlé, Ross Lovegrove, Bang Design, Jeffrey Bernett, Christian Biecher, Jhane Barnes, and Patrick Norguet. Metropolis tracked down Norguet and asked him to talk about the design of his Orly armchair (shown here) and sofa for Bernhardt (, which makes its debut at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), in New York.


There weren’t really any production difficulties in making the prototype and chair, mainly because from the start I designed it to be simple to produce and inexpensive to make. This was done precisely to avoid any problems in manufacturing.

I wanted to bring in a “plugged-in” aspect to make it as basic and elegant as possible. The cushion is “plugged in” to the backrest, which can be taken off and recovered in a different fabric.

I decided to take the archetype of a sofa or armchair and design it as simply and as purely as possible. I wanted to go back to the basics of what the experience of sitting is all about. It was a process of making it less complicated.

The chair isn’t very deep since it’s for the contract market and is meant to be used in an office lobby or waiting room rather than for residential use, which often requires a deeper seat.

The chair can be covered in any Bernhardt textile, in any combination of colors.

It’s called Orly, after the Paris airport, because it symbolizes travel and has an international feeling to it.

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