“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”…….
With furniture, as with so much in life, it is rarely the showy, high profile, works, or individuals, that teach us most, but those works, and those individuals, who in their anonymity and modesty accompany us in invisible silence.
Or rather the anonymous and quiet could teach us most, if we spent less time being distracted by, letting ourselves willingly be distracted by, the noise of the showy.
With the project Monobloc author and director Hauke Wendler, and a team of co-collaborators, offer us all an opportunity to focus on, and learn from, an object we’ve all seen and used, but only rarely, if ever, openly engaged with…….
“…one only finds warmth of life and sincerity where human nature is allowed to flourish”, opined the German designer Erich Dieckmann in 1931, “one shouldn’t forget that in our apartments. Let’s treat our contemporary homes to something humane. Something unelaborate, something provisional, with some leeway and space for things to grow as they wish over time.”1
With the exhibition Chairs: Dieckmann! The Forgotten Bauhäusler Erich Dieckmann, the Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt and Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin extend an invitation to explore how Erich Dieckmann understood an unelaborate, humane, contemporary apartment full of leeway and space to grow…….
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.
It’s probably fair to say that no object at IMM Cologne 2018 confused us quite as much as the new 118 chair by Sebastian Herkner for Thonet.
Not in bad way. Just in a confused way.
We know, we know, what sort of being gets confused by chairs.
Us. Regularly. It’s why our lives’ are such a mess.
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.
Although the evidence is not, yet, conclusive, recent years have seen an increasing confidence in the theory that sitting for too long can have a negative impact on health, and that all whose job involves prolonged sitting should regularly stand, move and generally change their body position.
But what about those workers who can’t? What about those workers whose job is defined by long periods of sitting?
Amongst all the fake flavours at Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 the Umami of Japanese design studio Bouillon was a genuine delight.
For the 13th century Dominican friar Thomas Aquinas beauty required a perfect combination of integritas, consonantia & claritas – integrity,
On March 10th 2015 a jury at the Central District Court of California in Los Angeles concluded that Pharrell Williams
For us one of the few genuine joys of Milan Design Week is observing visitors to the furniture fair perching
As many of you will be aware, back in November we struggled to find five design exhibitions opening in December
Standing in the Leipzig Grassi Museum for Applied Arts, surrounded by 150 years of Thonet chair history, Peter Thonet, x-times-great