Make no mistake about it: vanguard furniture brings all of the peeps to the yard — or, you know, the living room. Unconventional, bold, and seriously scene-stealing, avant-garde furniture can transform a room into a showroom. Of course, designing with peacocking pieces isn’t for the faint or heart. What’s the right way to decorate with vanguard furniture? Read on for a few pointers pulled straight from the pros!

A pink New York City sitting room featuring a yellow togo sofa
Design by Michael K Chen Architecture / Photo by Alan Tansey

Let it Lead

Chances are high that if you’re working with a runway-grade piece, it’s among the first pieces you selected for your room. If it is, take cues from it. In the case of a Ligne Roset Togo Sofa, for instance, use its low height as a guide for your other furniture pieces’ height. Surrounding it with floor-skimming tables, consoles, and accent seating ensures that it maintains its presence. Similarly, if your statement piece is brightly-colored, choose a few other bright furniture pieces and fixtures. Doing so will ensure it doesn’t feel like a stylistic outlier. 

Dramatic white entry featuring a vanguard pinwheel mirror and coordinating pleated ceiling
Design by Michael K Chen Architecture / Photo by Alan Tansey

Go Tonal

To make an over-the-top piece feel like less ostentatious, cop a trick straight from the runway and opt for a neutral hue like white. A mega-maximalist mirror, for instance, becomes more of a wallflower than exhibitionist when outfitted in white paint — which just so happens to be the same color as the walls. Try curating a similar effect with a statement headboard or wall sculpture. White-on-white is a classic, but beige, chocolate, or even black could produce a similarly stunning effect.

A modern home office in a west side apartment designed by Douglas C. Wright
Design by Douglas C. Wright Architects / Photo by Richard Powers

Make it an Outlier

Didn’t we just tell you to let statement pieces take the lead? Let’s just say when dealing with the avant-garde, rules are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. If your statement piece isn’t too outlandish and reads like a classic minus one or two exaggerated features, you might consider building an otherwise “normal” room around it. A cognac leather desk chair that’s only deviation from the norm is a towering back, for instance, feels all the more surreal when surrounded by standard office furnishings and decor. 

Malibu retreat designed by Jamie Bush + Co. featuring two sculptural outdoor chairs
Design by Jamie Bush + Co. / Photo by Daniel Collopy

Treat It Like Sculpture 

For vanguard furniture that deftly toes the line between furniture and sculpture, consider spotlighting them in a way similar to how a museum might. Extroverted stone lounge chairs arranged in a solo vignette away from the main seating area, for instance, alerts everyone to their uniqueness. Should you be working with pieces that simply won’t merge with more pedestrian designs, you might try going this route. Look for places in your home that might naturally accommodate a small solo exhibit, such as a bay window nook, bedroom annex, or oversized stair landing. 

Lead image design by Douglas C. Wright Architects / Photo Credit: Richard Powers


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August 8, 2022

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