Even a chair can give, not always

posture us tall, forgive us our trespasses,daily as they are and all,

and hallowed……

               William Stafford


AF Slipcover Chair (Tapestry)

danish chairs


I remember these chairs – Danish –  although I don’t remember them ever being called that.  They were big in the post WWII era – and are now often re-surging as vintage hipster.

Chairs have history, yes they do – and symbolize the life and times of both designers, makers  and consumers.

Like any work of art, we learn about the culture they’re from by looking at how they were made, who made them, and their style. What was important at the time? Who were they made for? What space did they live in?

Art and Design move through time.  Chair design included.  Their reason for being stays the same;  people need a place to sit.

Chairs are form and function in a way that is easy for us to understand –  but not so easy for designers to perfect.   For designers, chairs contain

many of the challenges of design-—engineering, choice of materials, production method, style, and functionality—in one small package.

A designer’s entire philosophy can be summed up by their chair.

Designer George Nelson put it nicely, saying, “Every truly original idea—every innovation in design, every new application of materials, every technical invention for furniture—seems to find its most important expression in a chair.”

marshmallow sofa index

George Nelson, Marshmallow Sofa 1956, produced 1956 – 1965 and reintroduced in 2000.




what next – preloved lawn chairs

“We made love like two folding lawn chairs. We were both motionless, but the possibility of movement permeated the moment.”
Jarod Kintz




lanne wise and morton funk talking at High Water


anc hanging iron bench. vintage

Timeline of the chair

• Pre 12th century:  three-legged stools or benches, crudely made, and purely functional…

• 12th-15th centuries: added backs and four legs – chairs!  Gothic style influence furniture,  often carved, high-backed and straight (think cathedral chairs)…

• 16th-17th centuries:  more refined, more comfortable and more decorative. Looks as important as function.  Renaissance.  The church no longer the only patron of the arts; noblemen also filled this role. European kings, especially the French line of Louis XIII, XIV and XV, have great influence…. luxurious ornamentation, veneers, rich fabrics, exotic wood, stones, gold and silver…

• 18th century:  richness and formality pushed even further.  Rococo forms, curved lines, floral decorations,  even more ornamentation.  the middle and upper classes now enjoy different kinds of seating: stools, dining chairs, side chairs, armchairs, a low bench by the fire…

• 19th century: post French Revolution, Napoleonic heavy, straight neoclassical lines replaced Rococo frivolity. Large “Empire” chairs  … mid-century, the Victorian era; opulent displays of wealth … heavy fabrics, like velvet, dark colors.  in America the Federal movement, a colonial, classical look…

• 20th century:  furniture design comes into the hands of the people … first Mission and Arts and Crafts styles… severe lines a response to Victorian excesses to industrialism… then art nouveau, modernism, art deco, and Bauhaus….

Post World War II: modernism takes off …  function-first, forthright, minimalist … light and sleek using new, inventive materials — molded plywood, plastic and chrome…

screened chairs

Black hole. Blue chair. August.    screen print . Lanne Wise

lawnchair two

blue lawn chairs by isla gealach at cheeky pea
“The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.”
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

About lannewise

“It's not a big thing, but I guess it's true--big things are often just small things that are noticed.” ― Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger
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1 Response to chairs

  1. Little Shiva says:

    Aaaah, chairs! Here’s a pic of one I took and used as an illustration for an article on a site I designed:

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