Best surrealist furniture: Wallpaper* Design Awards 2024

These surrealist designs are our favourite weird and wonderful works to wake up to

Every year, we keep an eye out for designs that bring the surreal into our surroundings, and 2023 really didn't disappoint. From fruit- and pasta-shaped furniture to chairs discreetly nodding to Mickey Mouse, we have gathered our favourite surrealist designs from the past 12 months, including furniture, interior accessories, lighting and more. 


‘Toppings’ ceiling light, by Lucia Massari and Barbini Specchi Veneziani, from Nilufar 

Lucia MAssari lamp

(Image credit: Francesco Allegretto. Courtesy Lucia Massari)

This intricate glass ceiling light by Venetian designer Lucia Massari looks good enough to eat. Its wooden base, clad with Murano mirror and supporting a row of exposed lightbulbs, is complemented by curly glass elements inspired by the buttercream decorations found on fancy cakes and patisseries. 

It is part of ‘Toppings’, a collection of four lights crafted in collaboration with renowned Italian mirror brand Barbini Specchi Veneziani, and the continuation of Massari’s experiments with glass and colour. Inspired by the way melted glass looks like soft candy when poured in moulds or prepared for glass blowing, Massari has layered the lamp in the form of curls and pins on top of tinted Venetian glass to create particularly tempting ornamentation.

While this particular lamp seems to be ‘flavoured’ with orange peel candy and buttercream, other models in the collection, available from Milan’s Nilufar gallery, are inspired by caramel fudge, fresh mints and blueberry frosting.

Bitossi OMG GMO fruit furniture by Robert Stadler

(Image credit: Filippo Telaro)

Robert Stadler’s ‘OMG-GMO’ collection of whimsical carrot- and watermelon-shaped creations are produced in collaboration with Italian manufacturer Bitossi and Greek gallery Carwan. A series of nine hand-painted functional objects are inspired by the genetic manipulation of fruit and vegetables in a bid to reflect on how humans transform nature – and their food.

Perfectly straight cucumbers are stacked on an avocado base to form the ‘Size Matter’ floor lamp; a slice of Japanese rectangular seedless watermelon becomes the ‘Juicy Josef’ stool; a trio of carrots turns into the ‘Tiptoe’ lamp; and wheel-like aubergines support a glass coffee table, as a reference to Gae Aulenti’s ‘Tavolo con Ruote’. The result is totally delectable.

‘Mickey’ armchair, by India Mahdavi, for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna

india mahdavi gebruder thonet vienna chair

(Image credit: Courtesy India Mahdavi and Gebruder Thonet Vienna)

Celebrated Iranian-French architect and designer India Mahdavi adds a new twist to Gebrüder Thonet Vienna’s famous curved lines and bentwood furniture with this cute armchair sporting a pair of Mickey Mouse ears.

Following her designs for Thonet’s ‘Loop’ collection, this armchair is designed to be ‘embracing, colourful and kind’, with Mahdavi stating that it should be ‘a friend to cherish and with big ears, who listens to all your fears’. Its silhouette is based on a continuous line drawing, with the designer having pursued the line without lifting her pencil, creating a beautiful piece of furniture, full of movement. 

The curls look simple on paper, but were actually pretty challenging for Thonet’s expert team of woodworkers, who had to double their efforts to bend the beech wood to achieve Madhavi’s round ears. The black wood is complemented by two different hues of green upholstery.

‘Tidal’ collection, by Germans Ermičs, for CC-Tapis

germand ermics cc tapis rug

(Image credit: Courtesy Germans Ermics and cc-tapis)

Amsterdam-based Latvian designer Germans Ermičs is a Wallpaper* regular, having won multiple Design Awards for his captivating creations over the years, as his experimentation with colour and reflection are regularly turned into mesmerising installations and ethereal glass furniture – showcased at Riga’s Museum of Decorative Arts and Design with solo exhibition in 2023

Now he has shifted our perception again, this time tackling colour through the medium of textiles, with a new collection for Milan-based specialist CC-Tapis. Titled ‘Tidal’, the series comprises six fluid models all made in Nepal using Himalayan wool. It includes a pink-violet ‘Overflow’ rug that resembles ripples on a beach, and a blue-green ‘Retreat’ rug mirroring an ebbing tide. 

Customizable in size and colour, all models feature a sophisticated shaded effect that was created through an innovative colouring system: a single colour that varies in intensity based on the times and the duration in which the wool thread is immersed in the colouring tanks. The effect obtained is a slight nuance, which gradually intensifies its saturation.

‘Tortello’ armchair, by Barber Osgerby, for B&B Italia 

B&B Italia Tortello sofa by Barber & Osgerby

(Image credit: Courtesy B&B Italia)

British studio Barber Osgerby continues its long-standing collaboration with B&B Italia with this pasta-inspired seating collection. Inspired by the curvaceous form of tortello, a folded pasta shape associated with Italy’s Lombardy region, the sofa and armchair are designed for comfort and relaxation.

Each plush piece is filled not with the traditional herbs and parmesan cheese, but rather with a trapezoidal base topped with a recycled polyethylene foam body and elastomer mattress, which gives the ‘Tortello’ its recognisable, generously proportioned shape. It is upholstered in wool bouclé,  with a ring of ‘pinched’ stitching used to add definition to the profile.

It’s also a great piece of sustainable design, thanks to its minimal use of second-life polyethylene, and adhesive-free assembly that promises effortless recycling. ‘Tortello’ is available in five different upholstery fabrics and over 40 colourways, including bright yellows and reds.

‘Blade’ desk, by Bryan O’Sullivan Studio

Bryan O’Sullivan desk

(Image credit: Courtesy Bryan O’Sullivan)

This striking cantilevered aluminium desk is part of Irish designer Bryan O‘Sullivan’s first furniture collection. Based in London and New York, O’Sullivan has been producing bespoke, exclusive pieces for private homes, hotels and restaurants around the globe for a decade, but has only just made some of his designs more widely available. 

Featuring a red leather tabletop, white lacquered frame and lined aluminium drawers, his ‘Blade’ desk, made to order in a limited edition of ten, is inspired by the space-age aesthetics of the 1960s and 1970s. With its chunky drawers and smooth, rounded elements, the piece manages to be both powerful and playful.

The eclectic collection also includes a solid oak sideboard featuring ceramic tile artworks by the Irish artist Cormac Boydell; a Sottsass-inspired ‘Jellyfish’ mirror; a midcentury tubular steel chair; and a new version of the ‘Croissant’ sofa, originally conceived for the art deco-themed Berkeley bar and terrace.

Sancal link sofa by Raw Colour

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sancal)

Even in the depths of the pandemic lockdowns, Daniera ter Haar and Christoph Brach of Eindhoven-based studio Raw Color were thinking of getting together with friends, and wondering how to create ‘new joyful ways of sitting’. Working with Spanish furniture brand Sancal under the codename ‘Party’, they came up with the ‘Link’ sofa, and its ‘Loop’ counterpart.

Turning an everyday object into a sculpture and playground, the system’s soft cylinders allow for free sitting and lounging about. They can either stay as a cosy single ‘Loop’ sofa, or be joined as a chain by using as many ‘Links’ as desired. As with all of the Dutch studio’s creations, colour is key: each hue has been chosen to play with light, shadow and volume in a bid to manipulate perception.

As well as the carefully selected range of six plain colours, there are a couple of multicolour versions, and a Designer’s Edition upholstered in Raw Color’s ‘Planum’ fabric for the Danish textile company Kvadrat. Like a patchwork, each Designer’s Edition combines three different shades of the same colour, playing with reds, yellows, blues or greens depending on the option chosen.

Main artwork (top of page): Eun Jeong Yoo. Interiors: Olly Mason

A version of this article appears in the February 2024 issue of Wallpaper* – dedicated to the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2024 – available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Léa Teuscher is a Sub-Editor at Wallpaper*. A former travel writer and production editor, she joined the magazine over a decade ago, and has been sprucing up copy and attempting to write clever headlines ever since. Having spent her childhood hopping between continents and cultures, she’s a fan of all things travel, art and architecture. She has written three Wallpaper* City Guides on Geneva, Strasbourg and Basel.