Chairs are like people, they come in a seemingly endless variety of sizes, shapes and colors, yet there is a commonality that links them as a species. A furniture species, that is.
Each one has a front, a back, and most have arms and legs. They have a common destiny and purpose. Worthy chairs usually end up in heavenly rooms, while bad ones end up in landfills (or should). Their seemingly endless styles illustrate an enormous array of periods, materials and regions ranging from urban formality to rustic simplicity, from molded acrylic transparency to hand-carved wooden richness, and from overstuffed comfort to light-as-air sculpture. Regardless of their appearance, they continually support us, often in great style.
Above are four chairs from our shop, all from the 19th century and made from very diverse materials. The Japanned English papier-mache chair is inlaid with mother of pearl and festooned with very Victorian flowers. The iron chair is more sculptural than practical, but beautiful in its oddity, while the wicker example shows a breezy 19th century summer style. The wood chair was designed by George Hunzinger in 1869, a German immigrant whose workshop was in New York City. These four chairs in no way express the depth and range of “The Chair” through the ages, but do remind us of the endless styles, shapes, materials and personalities expressed in this singular piece of furniture.
To bring the conversation into the following century and up to the present, here are a few of the more modern chairs we’ve used in various projects. Don’t the top two simply personify the term “lounge chair”? With their low-slung, laid back demeanor, Rodolfo Dordoni’s Hopper Armchair and T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings webbed armchair are designed for relaxation, one with an eye toward the future and the other with a wink to the Mad Men days of yore. As for the bottom two, these chairs’ shapely curves put Victoria’s Secret models to shame. The red-headed bombshell is a masterful design by Frits Henningsen from the 1930’s, and the sexy sophisticate on the right is the highly coveted Klismos chair by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings for Saridis. All the more proof that great design can be powerfully seductive!