At the opposite end of the spectrum from ubiquitous Ikea standbys like MALM, LACK, and BILLY, designers bring things into the world that are so hard to love, so form-over-function, that it can be genuinely tough to tell if they're making an egregious misstep, on to something amazing, simply trolling, or some combination of the three. Take the piece above: Perfect for a spooky game of 'Emerge From the Tumorous Mass in Your Two-Seater,' Nacho Carbonell's Evolution chairs were built, as the Spanish designer explains, to create a refuge from the "frenetic rhythm" of information saturation in modern life, where one can go to "escape and digest this rave in which we are submerged." Fun, right? Wherever the general consensus falls on the pieces below—18 more selections from the crème de la crème of contemporary avant-garde furnishings—they've definitely got character in spades.
↑ Continuing with the Tim Burton vibe, Carbonell followed up his Evolution series with the Skin Collection, which included this umbilically inspired wonder.
Photos via Core77
↑ Atlanta-based sculptor Mark Wentzel truly brought the Eames chair into the 21st century with his obese loungers, in a manner only rivaled by a certain meme-worthy collection of cats curled up in them. Achieving that overstuffed effect took a heroic amount of foam and automotive upholstery, though the chairs that gave up their looks for the effort are the real heroes here.
↑ Mexican designer Valentina Gonzalez Wholers' Prickly Pair Chair would make for a stunning conversation piece in any home, especially fit for rehashing the "is this safe to sit on" bit with visitors. Yes, they are, because the faux-cactus-needles are made from horse hair.
↑ Wholer's Ghost of a Chair is another head-scratcher. A "sculptural free-form" made from a single polyester sheet, this one's for fans of impossible love stories starring Patrick Swayze.
Photos via NotCot
↑ Designed to retain "the animal's natural vitality whilst being totally biological accurate in their appearance," Maximo Riera's animal chairs deserve special mention here. Pictured above at the 2011 London Design Festival, these limited-edition high-density polyurethane behemoths take about 11 weeks to produce, and as of late 2012, cost anywhere from $50K to $100K each. Have fun finagling one into the living room—they can weigh up to 350 pounds.
↑ Displaying his penchant for occasional bouts of questionable taste, rapper and producer Pharrell Williams teamed up with Domeau & Pérès in 2009 to come up with something called the Perspective Chair. According to Williams, the piece emerged from a thought experiment on "what it's like to truly be in love."
↑ Staying one step ahead of the slovenly, this sofa from Swedish firm Front comes pre-disheveled.
Photos via RugRag
↑ German designer Hannes Grebin described his Cozy Furniture series as an attempt at "encouraging the irritating image." Mission accomplished?
↑ Designer Eduardo McIntosh clearly had a bit of fun with the Autonomous Living Unit, which aspires—satirically, to be sure—to "provide for the basic needs of the 21st century human being," and looks like Bose's attempt at outfitting a dystopian gynecological practice.
↑ The One Chair by Charlotte Kingsnorth won a 2008 Design and Art Direction student award in a competition that called for pieces "unencumbered by commercial constraints," but who's to say these wouldn't sell like hotcakes?
Photos via Inhabitat
↑ Though they may look like sketchbook doodles, these are actually pieces from Korean artist Jinil Park's Drawing Furniture Series, which he created by taking rough sketches of furniture and building them in wire.
Photos via My Modern Met
↑ Looks like it might be time for a design deathmatch. Tokyo University of the Arts student Daigo Fukawa created a similarly scribble-based set for his 2013 senior thesis, but with more of a focus on whimsy than representational veracity. Who wore it best? Hard to say; it would be like picking a favorite child from among your two sketchiest.
Photos via Woont
↑ The Mirror Chairs by Kai Linke are pieces of patio furniture reflected back on themselves at different points. For many, these will bring back fond memories of messing around with Photobooth in the back row of Sociology 101.
↑ Manufactured by the Edra furniture company in 2009, the Cipria sofa can be viewed in the kindest possible light as an unwitting Lorax movie tie-in before its time. It goes without saying that it would look great in Seattle's Seussian House.
↑ In designing the Ear chair, Dutch brand Proof wondered what would happen if "a piece of furniture were also a room." Humanity still isn't any closer to answering that question, but at least there's these insane ultra-wingback chairs to ponder.
Photos via ForMakers
↑ Privately commissioned in 2012 and made from intertwined polyamide wires, architect Daniel Widrig's De-Optimised Chair inevitably begs the question: de-optimized for what? Not for convincing houseguests the've entered the Matrix, that's for sure.
Photos via Design Boom
↑ This series by Dutch designer Maarten Baas was made by wrapping synthetic clay around reinforcing metal frames, creating pieces that look like lightly microwaved plastic furniture.
↑ Universally hailed as one of the ugliest designs ever, this here is the XXL Chair by Dutch designers Janneke Hooymans and Frank Tjepkema, yet another infliction of obesity on undeserving furniture. Described by Flavorwire as an "abstraction of a sprawling, obese mammal with a tattoo on one 'leg,'" this piece is known around Curbed as "Hungover Michelin Man."