The essentials: 20 of the best coat racks

Whether wall-mounted, floor-standing or even suspended, apocalyptic or integrated, the coat rack is a tool for the essential order, curiously never tied to a binding dimension and capable of oscillating between moralising functionalism and imaginative evocative power.

A relatively recent invention among furnishing objects – it was not until the nineteenth century that it first became widespread – the coat hanger or coat rack has proved over time to be a prolific inspiration for many designers, seduced by its ability to embody proposals that oscillate between mimicry and absolute scenic prominence.

Born as a humble and anonymous object, an evolution of the nail that has been refined to the benefit of our clothes’ care, it resides in its most essential form in a simple wall hook that the industrial traditions of many countries have now fixed in iconic and very recognisable forms.

Over time, its form has experienced an increasingly extraordinary evolution, linked on the one hand to the industrialisation of curved wood and the invention of floor-standing models, and on the other to the democratisation of public places such as offices and cafés – which would contribute not only to multiply its need, but to anchor this object in the imagination and domestic needs too. Never bound to a specific dimension, the coat rack could incorporate mirrors, capitonné padding, shelves and umbrella stands, as in the 1930s and 1950s integrated systems, or again be reduced to essential and abstract hooks realised in the years of the nascent plastic industry.

In other cases, figurative homology will transform it into an exquisitely cinematographic object: as with Cactus, but the same could be said for many models that find a particularly self-explanatory organic reference in the morphology of the tree, the coat rack will be transformed into an object that we do not want to hide under the blanket of coats, but rather magnify as an absolute presence. In more recent years, its versatility seems to have increased with the appearance of numerous proposals aimed at meeting the tidiness requirements of increasingly smaller homes, more and more populated with objects. And this has had an indirect effect on its positioning: the absolute king of the entrance hall, the coat rack is now found in all the rooms of the house, crowning the recognition of its indispensability over the years.

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