Top 1980s Furniture Brands: Vintage Classics from Kartell to Herman Miller

Top 1980s Furniture Brands: Vintage Classics from Kartell to Herman Miller

Discover the top furniture brands that defined 1980s style, from Italian designs by Kartell and Memphis to American classics by Herman Miller and Knoll.

Top 1980s Furniture Brands: Vintage Classics from Kartell to Herman Miller

The 1980s were a transitional time in furniture design. While some brands continued mid-century modern styles, others embraced bolder looks with bright colors, geometric shapes, and novel materials. Despite divisive opinions on the 80s aesthetic, furniture from this decade can add retro flair to contemporary homes. 

With vintage 80s furniture popularity rising, it can be tricky to identify quality brands versus low-end manufacturers. This guide covers notable furniture brands from the 1980s worth knowing about when vintage shopping. We’ll explore popular materials and styles from top producers of the era.

Whether you love or hate the 1980s style, understanding influential designers and brands can help find secondhand gems or inspire your own interiors.

Read on for a go-to list of 1980s furniture brands and iconic pieces that stand out today.


  • Kartell
  • Memphis Group
  • Knoll
  • Herman Miller
  • B&B Italia 
  • Cassina
  • Cappellini
  • Poliform
  • Ethnicraft
  • Directional Furniture 
  • Drexel Heritage
  • Berkline
  • Lane
  • Key Takeaways


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Italian Midcentury Armchair by Anna Castelli Ferreri for Kartell, 1980s

Founded in Italy in 1949, Kartell became a leader in molded plastic furniture in the 1960s under head designer Joe Colombo. Their experimental plastics continued into the 1980s with designers like Anna Castelli Ferrieri creating signature see-through pieces.

Kartell’s plastic fantastics remain collectible today. Iconic designs include the Louis Ghost chair, Bubble Club sofa, and industrial-style LAB ware. Plastic gave Kartell’s furniture affordability despite its high-concept styles. Bright colors and transparency embodied the playful futurism of 1980s design.

Memphis Group 

Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Madonna Wooden Table, by Arquitectonica for Memphis Milano Collection

Formed in Milan in 1981, the Memphis Group represented a radical departure from modernism. The collective of designers like Ettore Sottsass brought pop-art inspirations to furniture with bright colors, geometric shapes, and postmodern philosophies. 

Though short-lived, the Memphis Group created surreal statement pieces that became symbolic of 1980s design. Their Tahiti, Carlton, and Casablanca collections featured abstract laminate designs and built-in functionality. Whimsical patterns contrasted with the sleek forms of traditional modernism. Kitschy Memphis items can be pricey collectibles today.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe for Knoll, 1980s

Established in 1938, Knoll continues as a leading furniture manufacturer known for collaborations with celebrated 20th-century designers. In the 1980s, creative director Brian Redfield launched the KnollStudio line of experimental contemporary pieces.

Popular Knoll items from the era include Richard Schultz’s 1966 Collection of outdoor furniture and Frank Gehry’s playful corrugated cardboard Wiggle Side Chair. Knoll’s 1980s pieces balance utility with sculptural forms, often exaggerating scale and angles. Abstract shapes married comfort with artistic flair.

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Herman Miller

Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Eames Time Life Chair in Grey Leather for Herman Miller, 1980s

From 1942 Michigan furniture company Herman Miller employed legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames. Their recognizable mid-century silhouettes were updated in the 1980s under new creative director Sam Farber. 

A standout was the 202 Puzzle Chair by noted industrial designer John Pearson. Its curved one-piece shell embodied Herman Miller’s blend of ergonomic and artistic ideals. More practical office systems also emerged for tech-age workspaces. Herman Miller brought high design into corporate environments.

B&B Italia

Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Antonio Citterio, ''Sity'' Sofa for B&B Italia, 1980s

Founded in 1966, the Italian brand B&B Italia interprets design philosophies in innovative ways. They partnered with postmodern architect Mario Bellini to create the bold Le Bambole armchair of foam-filled leather.

Upholstery continued as a specialty, seen in rounded Bobo couches. B&B Italia’s futuristic forms characterize the 1980s through today with their exploration of tech-driven shapes.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Cassina table

Milan design house Cassina likewise worked with seminal creatives like Le Corbusier in earlier decades. The 1980s saw second-generation family leaders spur fresh innovations from the brand. 

Designers such as Rodolfo Dordoni created new takes on modernist styles, evident in the angular Scoop chair. Cassina maintained its eye for merging form, function, and fine craftsmanship but with more expressive 80s geometry.

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Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Giulio Cappellini & Antonio Facco Small Luce Glass Service Table for Cappellini

Founded in 1946, Cappellini also exemplified Italian furniture advances. Under Giulio Cappellini’s guidance, the family brand commissioned bold talents of the 1980s.

The Proust Armchair by Alessandro Mendini deconstructed Louis XV styling with a multi-fabric frame and lively leg details. Other contemporary greats contributed artsy sculptural works that became 80s icons. Cappellini embraced the experimental spirit of the decade.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - 80s Francesco Soro ‘Siglo XX’ Sofa for ICF by Poliform

Formed in 1970 in Brianza, Poliform took Italian furniture global with their understated, high-end designs. Creative director Giovanni Anzani introduced the elegant Wall System to organize open floorplans in the 1980s.

The modular storage units by Paolo Piva illustrated Poliform’s finesse with materials through lacquered wood finishes and metal accents. Their custom-oriented cabinetry remains covetable today for its efficient use of space.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Double Oak Extendable Dining Table by Ethnicraft

Belgium brand Ethnicraft was launched in the early 1990s inspired by tropical travels. Their handcrafted solid oak and teak furnishings reinvigorated colonial signatures for contemporary living. 

Natural wood grains juxtaposed with updated forms, as seen in the airy Nia dining table or chunky Kubu sofa frame. Ethnicraft’s globetrotting spirit presaged today’s passion for world designs even as globalization expanded.

Directional Furniture

Top 1980s Furniture Brands - 1980s Kagan Style Biomorphic Form Sofa by Directional Furniture

North Carolina brand Directional Furniture epitomized American casual styling in the 1980s under founder Fred Denton. Designers like Henredon offered relaxed pieces for kicking back at home.

Their mixed materials chairs paired upholstered seats with sturdy wood frames and arms. Detailed spindle work nodded to Arts and Crafts tradition with a laidback feel. Directional’s inviting furniture invited casual relaxation.

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Drexel Heritage

Top 1980s Furniture Brands - 1980s Drexel Heritage Kidney Shaped Sofa

North Carolina’s Drexel Heritage likewise looked backwards in their reproduction furnishings. Founded in 1903, they licensed classic designs from museums to produce well-made replicas.

Drexel’s Pavilion range took cues from ancient Greek architecture with columns, rams head motifs, and pediment-shaped mirrors. Historical styles and natural finishes are connected to enduring tastes.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Vintage "Wallaway" Rattan Recliners by Berkline

California’s Berkline specialized in recliner chairs that innovated affordable comfort. The brand’s Wall Hugger models kept seated relaxation possible even with the furniture pushed against walls. 

Power options let chairs fully recline without sliding forward. Casual and contemporary styles dressed up motorized motion for small space functionality.


Top 1980s Furniture Brands - Pair of Post Modern White and Gun Metal Grey Chrome Nightstands by Lane

Similarly, Virginia’s Lane built their company around reclining chairs and sofas. Founded in the 1950s, they expanded to become America’s largest reclining furniture producer.

Lane’s clean-lined designs mask mechanisms that allow chairs and sofas to fully flatten at the touch of a button. Their patented designs deliver customizable comfort across living spaces.

Key Takeaways

The 1980s marked a new eclecticism in furniture, from Memphis postmodernism to neo-traditional exoticism. While avant-garde Italian brands like Cappellini and B&B Italia embraced artsy abstraction, others like Knoll and Herman Miller updated mid-century modernism. Experimental materials from Kartell plastics to Ethnicraft woods expanded furniture possibilities.

At the same time, American brands pursued more familiar aesthetics from Berkline’s casual recliners to Drexel’s classical reproductions. Tracing influential brands helps identify quality secondhand 1980s finds versus trend-chasing imitations.

Beyond nostalgia, pioneering designers of the decade opened new directions for furniture manufacturing and integration into contemporary spaces. Discover the innovative ethos of the 1980s greats to inspire your own interiors that look forward, not just back.