Saturday, May 2, 2009

Architecture You Can Sit On

One of the most common pieces of furniture that we use in our everyday life is a Chair. How many times so we try and find out how this chair came into existence. Some of the most sought after chair design has been designed by famous architects. Usually we associate architect with building design and we always try and distinguish the interiors designed by architects with that designed by Interior designers. Some tend to argue that Architects are very rigid and lack imagination when it comes to designing interior space. On the other hand architects themselves consider interior design as mere of decoration. Following are a few of the chairs designed by some of the greatest architects of our times.

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that "Every chair must be designed for the building it will be in."
This "Barrel Chair" made of natural cheery wood with an upholstered leather seat was designed in 1937 for Herbert Johnson's house and apparently was a rework on a design he created in 1904. Wright saw the chair as an architectural challenge and used tall straight chairs as screens around tables. Unlike many of his contemporary stalwarts, Wright believed that machines could actually enhance the designs.

The Taliesin armchair 1949 by Frank Lloyd Wright



The Barrel Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright




The Hill House Chair was designed in 1902-1903 by the Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the publisher W.W. Blackie. Originally painted white, this high, narrow Hill House chair was meant to be decorative - not to be actually sat on. The original still resides in the bedroom of the Hill House in Helensburgh.




The Hill House Chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh



Modernists believed that the shape of furniture should be determined by its function and by the materials used. They stripped furniture down to its basic elements, using a minimum of parts and eschewing ornamentation of any kind. Even color is avoided. Made of metal and other high tech materials, Modernist furniture is black, white, and gray.




The Barcelona chair by was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona. Leather straps were used to suspend leather-covered cushions from chrome plated steel frame. The Barcelona chair was a custom design created for the King and Queen of Spain. This was used as an artistic statement to illustrate how negative space could be used to transform a functional item to a sculptural object. "A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous." --Mies van der Rohe quoted in Time magazine, February 18, 1957.




The Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe 1919




Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was a popular Modernist during 1920s and 1930s. Trained as an architect, Gray opened a design workshop in Paris, where she created carpets, wall hangings, screens, and enormously popular lacquer work. She also exhibited several architectural projects at Le Corbusier's "Pavillion des Temps Nouveaux" in 1937. The Nonconformist Chair by Eileen Gray has only one armrest. It is designed to accommodate the owner's favorite resting position. Today, she is recognized as one of the finest designers and architects of her day and pieces like the Eileen Gray Table have become icons of modern design. Also displayed is the Bibendum armchair (1927).

The Bibendum armchair (1927) by Eileen Gray



The Nonconformist Chair by Eileen Gray




ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971) was one of Denmark's most influential 20th century architects and designers. Both his buildings and products, like his Swan and Egg Chairs, combine modernist ideals with a Nordic love of naturalism.



Swan Chair Arne Jacobsen



Egg Chair Arne Jacobsen



The Modernists rebelled against the concept of furniture that was merely decorative and created sleek, impersonal furniture that was designed to fit in many situations. Technology was a key for these followers of the Bauhaus School and saw the machine as an extension of the hand. His furnitures were designed to support industrial production. Here is the "Tulip Chair" designed in 1956 by the Finnish-born architect, Eero Saarinen. Made of fiberglass-reinforced resin, the seat of the Tulip Chair rests on a single leg. Also displayed is the Womb Chair.



The Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen

The most important Finnish architect of the 20th century, ALVAR AALTO (1898-1976) was a central figure in international modernism. His greatest buildings, like the 1927 Viipuri Library and 1928 Paimio Sanatorium, fused the naturalism of Finnish romanticism with modernist ideals: as did his influential furniture and glassware.



Alvar Alto Paimio 1933


Combining playful forms and experiments with advanced technologies, RON ARAD (1951-) has emerged as one of the most influential designers of our time. Born in Tel Aviv, he moved to London in 1973 to study architecture and made his name in the early 1980s as a self-taught designer-maker of sculptural furniture. He now works across both design and architecture.Consistently inventive and challenging, Ron Arad has studiously avoided categorization by curators and critics throughout his career.



Rover Chair - Ron Arad


Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) studied architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria, under Art Nouveau architect Otto Wagner, whose theories of functional, modern architecture profoundly influenced his works, and in 1896 he joined his office. Kubus Arm Chair of 1910 is one of the prize collections for its proud owners.


Kubus Arm Chair by Josef Hoffmann 1910


In the Red Blue Chair, Gerrit Rietveld manipulated rectilinear volumes and examined the interaction of vertical and horizontal planes, much as he did in his architecture. Although the chair was originally designed in 1918, its color scheme of primary colors (red, yellow, blue) plus black—so closely associated with the de Stijl group and its most famous theorist and practitioner Piet Mondrian—was applied to it around 1923. Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. The pieces of wood that comprise the Red Blue Chair are in the standard lumber sizes readily available at the time.



The Red Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld 1918


Le Corbusier was born in 1887 in the Swiss town of La-Chaux-de-Fonds, located within a few kilometers of the French border. He attended school in his home town where he studied the visual arts and architecture. In 1910, he landed a job working in Germany in the office of Peter Behrens where he may have met Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Unlike his problematic theories for urban planning, Le Corbusier's designer furniture is still very much admired by collectors of modern and Bauhaus seating.


Seating designs by Le Corbusier
Following are a few more which I could not stop myself from mentioning.

Wassily lounge chair (1925) by Marcel Breuer



Peter Eisenman Chair



zaha hadid cirrus seat2



The coconut chair 1956 by George Nelson



Laurinda Spear Trelleaf bench

5 comments:

  1. Awesome, I never knew that there were so many different types of chairs and am amazed to know that even architects design chairs

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  2. This was a very very well-researched post, and you have explained the topic so lucidly. I love neat straight lines, so I totally fell for the Hill House Chair and the Red and Blue Chair...even the Cocunut Chair was an interesting adaptation of a natural object.

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  3. After all most outdoors would look bare without outdoor lounge chair.

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  4. Wow! You sure know a lot about chairs! I have always loved the Mackintosh designs...but I think the barrel chair is my favourite of the ones you posted. Very elegant.

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  5. i like the way you have presented your page. I never knew the read on chairs can be so interesting ;)

    Silver
    from One Day at a Time

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