The story behind… the Rune
Running riot in newspapers and magazines, and across the London underground, our Rune armchair has the kind of casual confidence we haven’t had since we won at Sports Day in July 1996. Something tells us this inner self-assurance is down to those daring angles and that carefree, reclined back. But we’re just not sure.
So, in a bid to unravel the mystery, we decided to talk to designer Darcey Wood about the story behind this statement star. In the process, we learnt all about the special details that the Swoon Studio gave the Rune to make it what it is today – a total best-seller.
A nod to the past
The Rune isn’t your average chair. It’s not even your average armchair. Sitting in a whole category of its own, this daring design owes its bold-yet-understated form to a specific point in time, long ago – an era to which the Swoon Studio often pays homage: the marvellous mid-century.
‘A few of us decided to explore a vintage fair for inspiration. We thought it was important to take a lesson from what worked in the past – way in the past – to inform the future of our designs’, Darcey explains.
Giving a nod to the trends of days gone by is a recurring theme throughout the collections designed in house, which now make up over 85% of all Swoon designs. The Grace cabinet, for example, takes a leaf out of the big, brassy book of Deco – while the Chesterfield styling of the Winston sofa dates back as far as the 18th century. These designs are steeped in history – each element pored over, creating the perfect finished product to reflect an aesthetic of another era. And the Rune’s no different.
‘We popped into one specific store which was full of mid-century pieces and it was pretty magical, to be honest. Each design in there had its own story, its own personality. They were all unique and crafted – no mass production, no cheap materials, no fussy details. I really admire that about mid-century furniture – its ability to stand out through quality of design and manufacture, without being brash. It’s so subtly stylish. Ah!’
Uh-oh – could she love this design more than we do? No. Not possible.
The light-bulb moment
‘At the same time, all of a sudden, we noticed the mid-century armchair in the corner. We just turned to each other and knew we were thinking the same thing. The chair was just sitting there, looking like it’d been waiting patiently to be appreciated. It really stood out because of its unique character and how playful it was. It had really precise arms angled upwards with the tilt in its back.’
Little did the original designer (whoever that genius may be) know, these stand-out angles paved way for an equally gorgeous design, reappearing in a modified form decades later on the Swoon website – and in thousands of stylish homes across the UK. Inspiration is an understatement for such a statement chair.
‘We went back into the office the next day and immediately started to sketch some different concepts, influenced by the most pronounced angles on the chair.’
The angles of the vintage chair in the shop were the main draw for our designers. But mid-century vibes also exude from the upholstered seat and wooden legs. As this is also one of our Made-to-Order ranges, it’s easy to pick a fabric and leg tone which nail the mid-century look in one fell swoop (more of that in a second).
‘The use of tapered wooden legs, and the lived-in look which the leaning back of the chair suggests, is very mid-century’, Darcey remarks. ‘Plus its sleek lines with minimal ornamentation is something that not only looks good but also feels good, and provides function and support – it has a purpose in the home and isn’t superfluous for the sake of it.’
A unique silhouette
‘It’s like no chair we’d done before. The angles don’t conform to the traditional idea of comfort. We wanted to shake things up a bit – to give customers a variety of beautiful styles to match any kind of home. It’s even more customisable, as it’s a made-to-order piece – so, depending on the fabric and leg combination you choose, it can look like two totally different chairs.’
Have a peek, pick your favourite fabrics, and select from darker or lighter wooden legs. Our favourite? The Biscuit plush velvet with natural oak legs – this light-toned ensemble has 60s’ and 70s’ Sweden written all over it (and sometimes the fabric name makes us hungry).
‘Another thing I love about the silhouette is that the tapering doesn’t only apply to the legs but also to the arms – you can see that the arm widens at the elbow and tapers to the top. I love this detail.’
Something’s become clear during the course of this mini investigation. It’s little wonder this design radiates confidence – its creators wax lyrical about its beauty and originality.
Room for growth
The Rune was such a hit when it initially launched, back in April 2018, that the Swoon Studio knew they couldn’t stop there. There was more mid-century to make – more angles to admire. And so, the Rune grew in size, becoming a two-seater and three-seater sofa. Maintaining the deep tilt and slim, angular arms was a must – but additional seating capacity now means that there’s a Rune for every room.
How to style
‘Its sloped back lends itself well to a total unwind – this would make the perfect chair for a reading corner or just a little getaway from a hectic day.’
We wholeheartedly agree with Darcey. We’ve even picked out a book to read during our lunch breaks – because there’s a Rune waiting on the fourth floor of our office with our name on it.
‘You can create a little nook of peace with the right side table and lamp. I personally like the Lilleby side table and the Rhe table lamp with the Rune. They add to the light aesthetic and give a cosy yet luxurious, Scandinavian mid-century vibe.’
Yes, they do. And we’re so in love that we’re now pretending to read our book just to stay sitting on the Rune a moment longer. Lunch ended ages ago. But we’ll never be able to say the same about mid-century design, or our love for this stunningly confident armchair.