“Dear Architect” wrote Maria Chinaglia Ponti in 1967 to the architect, but no relation, Gio Ponti, “why don’t you design us some modern furniture? Daddy Walter is worried because our traditional stuff is not selling as it used to”.1
An unsolicited request, from a company of whom he’d never heard, an architect of the status of a late 1960s Gio Ponti could have turned down, it wasn’t as if a late 1960s Gio Ponti needed the commission; however, something about the letter from Maria Chinaglia Ponti interested, intrigued, Gio Ponti. Beyond the shared surname. For as he continues, in his recounting of the tale, “Ci vado“.
“I went to see them”…….
What is a chair?
With the exhibition Chairs. For children only! the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Leipzig, explore the (hi)story of and developments in children’s seating, and in doing so not only allow for insights into an all too often undervalued, underappreciated, ignored, genre of furniture, but also forces you to reconsider your response to what you thought was a very, very straightforward question…
As Peer Gynt reminisces with his dying mother, they dwell long and fondly on how, when Peer was a child, they would imagine his bed was a sleigh whisking them across a frozen fjord, a sleigh pulled by “fleet-foot horses”.
Or more accurately by a cat proxying for fleet-foot horses; a cat who before being pressed into service as a horse had been peacefully “sad på en kubbestol“1, sat upon a kubbestol: a chair hewn from a tree trunk, and an item of furniture which is as closely associated with Norway as is Peer Gynt, and which may have led just have as many lives and have just as many tales to tell…..
In all corners of the globe one finds objects of furniture which developed in response to local conditions, traditions and practices; vernacular objects without a formal author and which although, on account of?, arising from a very specific place and time can, invariably, both teach us a lot about the essentials of furniture and help explain furniture’s relationships with wider realities.
And objects we want to celebrate, starting with arguably, one of the best known examples of vernacular furniture: the Windsor chair.
The metal wire chair is such a well established seating genre it is hard to imagine it is possible to do anything new with it. Far less anything exciting.
As we’ve oft noted in these pages, not only have designers since time immemorial had a particular fascination for chairs, but society a particular predilection.
Arguably the two are related and can be traced to the long, universal, cultural, political and social relevance of the chair and the act of sitting, a state of affairs which not only makes the physical chair/seat an integral part of our lives, but the metaphorical: excitement brings us to edge of our chairs, those who are brave/foolish enough place themself in the hot seat, while we either sit in judgement or on the fence depending on what prudence and prejudice advise.
And so following on from our Cupboards, Closets, Wardrobes Playlist, a Radio smow Chairs Playlist, starting with five songs which discuss the action, symbolism and relevance of chairs/sitting in various contexts. Considerations on which can keep us occupied for hours.
In our interview with Marcel Kabisch, founder of and creative force behind German label Feinserie, he told us that what
Now that it is finally online we did want to write at great lengths about the AC4 by Antonio Citterio
Although the rumour persists that we only travel to trade fairs and exhibitions so that we can impress people in
The Top 5 chairs from the smow design spring. In no particular order. We lie: there is a slight order.