Authors
10/04/2018

A chair for life

Enrique was walking with his daughter Sara through the well-known neighborhood of Gràcia in the city of Barcelona. Sara was five years old. In a couple of weeks, she was going to turn six. She was growing very fast. She showed a fresh spontaneity for her age and an innate curiosity for all things. They had a regular itinerary that they did two or three times a week. But that day Sara wanted to change, for one of those spontaneous outbursts that her father liked so much. So, they were going down Verdi Street when they both became fixated on a different façade on...
20/03/2018

A Chair for Eternity

It is difficult to imagine that a chair poetically evokes death. The image of the electric chair shudders because of its strict functionality and it is not by chance that Andy Warhol dedicated a series of serigraphs treating it as a macabre icon of North American culture. The electric chair is a product of the most ruthless technical engineering while the Golgotha chair, designed by Gaetano Pesce in 1972, is an object halfway between sculpture and design that does not especially stand out for its functional and productive qualities but for its problematic...
13/03/2018

The Inflatable Utopia

Anyone who has designed or produced a chair knows how difficult it is to conceive a structure that supports the weight of a corpulent person while seeming as light as possible. You must disguise how the powerful forces of pressure and torsion act. For millennia, chairs had four legs. Using steel pipe, designers of the Modern Movement managed with two and in the mid-nineteen-fifties, Eero Saarinen managed to get his “Tulip” chair to stand on one leg in such a way that it took the appearance of a pedestal. The next challenge would be to design a chair without legs....
02/03/2018

Conversation on the train

No one doubts that the cantilever chair (freischwinger, which in German means free swing), based on the principle of the projecting beam and characterized by its elasticity, is a universal design. However, its paternity is problematic. Is it a Marcel Breuer design inspired by a Mart Stam idea or the other way around? What were the contacts between both designers? At what moment did their experiments intersect? The Dutch architect Mart Stam in 1926 had designed a chair without hind legs, constructed of 10 straight sections of gas pipe, reinforced with elbows. As...
23/02/2018

From war material to object for peace

French fry. This symbol of North American fast food alluded to by the nickname of the LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) chair could make us think that it was the product of a pop designer’s imagination. Nothing is further from reality because in 1945, when the end of World War II was approaching, pop had not yet made an appearance in the cultural scene and United States industry was focused on the construction of war material. It was not an auspicious time for frivolities. This chair was the result of the efforts made by the Eames spouses to master plywood techniques when...
06/02/2018

The chair that is carried everywhere

Who has not gone to the beach or the countryside carrying one of those cheap, collapsible, aluminum tube chairs that do not weigh anything, do not rust and can be stored and transported effortlessly? Is this omnipresent model in the campsites really a nice and comfortable design? Well, not too much. The curve of the legs makes them unstable and overturn when the user leans to the side. The bar on the back pierces the backside and the one in front cuts off circulation to the back of the thighs. The braided nylon strips end up opening with use. They are repaired...
29/11/2017

The "transplastic" chair

I met with the Campana brothers at a summer workshop in Boisbuchet. There we had time to have long conversations in those shared dinners at communal tables that are the center of country life that carries in the place. One afternoon we talked about their Transplastic collection. Surely it is the one that best expresses the way of thinking of the Brazilian brothers. Manual labor opposed to industrial, how to utilize poor local materials, in this case a fiber called “apui”, and elevating their category, giving them an unexpected beauty through design. There has been...
17/11/2017

The chair "and the rabbit speaks"

Many years ago, in the early nineties, on a visit to the studio of Ron Arad in Camden Town (London), he happily showed me a chair recently designed and already finished. It was called “And the Rabbit Speaks” and consisted of a large wooden box, with sinuous seat shape, that opened like a violin case and inside it you found another chair designed with the same silhouette as the box. The idea, he told me, was that chairs usually traveled in large wooden crates that protected them, and when they reach their destination, people use those same shipping crates, sit on...
08/11/2017

The papal chair

It was on a work trip to the Herman Miller factory, in the unknown destination of Grand Rapids (Michigan). We were with the designer Yves Behar, who was working with the American manufacturers on a new office chair. One that visit, we were given a tour of the facilities and we ended up in a basement where products of all kinds, prototypes, special pieces, etc. are warehoused. Snooping around, Yves and I raised a plastic and we found a white leather armchair with a strange shield printed on the back. It was a model designed by Charles and Ray Eames, with a...
03/11/2017

The "Navy" chair

The history of the Navy chair is one of the most surprising and ingenious I know. During the Second World War, the American Navy encountered a problem with the chairs they had on board, as the usually ended up destroyed by the rough sailors after months of being at sea. They urgently needed chairs as robust as they are lightweight, not magnetic, immune to the rust produced by sea salt, and also fire-resistant. Mission almost impossible. In the forties, Wilton C. Dinges of Emeco worked with a navy admiral on the production of these chairs made from recycled...
02/11/2017

Domingo the carpenter

In the sixties, Eivissa (Ibiza) was still a paradise barely polluted by modernity, where the rural culture survived, to which Domingo belonged, an old carpenter who along with his young nephew, who he had made his assistant, was still working in the upper part of Dalt Vila. Domingo used the solid wood of the island junipers to which he formed with the saw, the brush, the chisel, and the mortise…the most traditional tools that he handled with dexterity. And in fact, many of the chairs and tables were bought for houses of the members of the large colony of German,...
27/10/2017

The "Sánchez"chair

The sculptor José Luis Sánchez still retains a pair of overalls that he was given while on a trip to Finland from Pi, the first wife of Timo Sarpaneva, who owned a company dedicated to the design of work clothes. He had met them, he and Tappio Wirkkala, years earlier in the 1954 Milan Triennale when José Luis was a young scholar responsible for the care of Ramón Vázquez Molezún’s Spanish Pavilion, while Sarpaneva was the star guest of his country’s pavilion. This stay in Milan was very fruitful for José Luis, who, in support of the romantic pretentions of Titta,...
17/10/2017

Get up on time in the House of Lords

The word seat comes from the latin scamnum that meant 'bench, chair or platform'. Not everyone has the privilege of sitting on the padded benches of the House of Lords, but Sir Bernard Montgomery, conqueror of Field Marshal Rommel in El Alamein (1942) deserved his seat. One day, occupying his spot on the red bench, he stood up, turned toward a Lord seated to his right, with a serene expression and softly said, 'I apologize for disturbing you, but I am suffering from a coronary thrombosis'. Indeed, the doctors who treated him at the hospital concluded that...
10/10/2017

Stylish chairs for "royal business"

Consulting the Seven Games, we discover that Alfonso X used the same room for all royal uses: council, banquets, and the most intimate “comforts”… The Book of the Chamber explains that the bathroom was a room located alongside the room where food, lavatory services, clothes and prayer books were stored and…a chair or square box that contained the chamber pot… In the chronicles of the trip of Charles V, the luxurious bathrooms of the Najera Castle were described as “covered in yarn and silk upholstery”. Elizabeth I of England used for her necessities a type of...
02/10/2017

The shatterproof glass: decisive invention

The Marquise of Brezé, sister of Cardinal Richelieu only sat surrounded by cushions, because she was convinced that she had a backside of glass. This noble family provided very illustrious characters as well as outrageous ones. The Cardinal Richelieu ended his life believing that he was a horse, and whinnied as he circled the billiard table. His brother fell into the delusion of believing himself to be God the Father. The number of madmen who believed to be of glass – like Tomas Rodaja, the degreed follower of Cervantes – today is not as abundant as in old...
25/09/2017

A tomb for a chair

Among the most famous “imaginary sick” there is Judge Du Heeain. This magistrate, who practiced his career in Caen, was very apprehensive and gave into the delusion of believing himself to be phthisic. Despite his fairly healthy appearance, he didn’t want anyone to interrupt his repose and he remained seated in a chair where he even attended judicial cases. Later, he began to complain of migraines. And, doctors told him that darkness and rest alleviate the headaches, Judge Du Hellain increased his resting position, always remaining seated or lying in bed....
18/09/2017

You have to know how to sit

Gore Vidal, writer of “bestsellers” and other very famous literary works (Julian the Apostate, Hollywood, Empire), explained his secret to success in the means of the mass media: to sit, at all of the parties, next to someone in an exotic or extravagant dress. If no one is wearing a Mohawk or is a woman of the great world, an Indian in a turban also serves the purpose. “When you sit next to a character who wears a turban they take more photographs of you and you get on Sunday’s cover,” Gore Vidal recommends. There are countless photographs where this...
13/09/2017

The Throne is the Power

The king of the chairs is undoubtedly the royal throne. More than the crown or scepter, it is the symbol of power: to ascend the throne, to remain on the throne, to lose the throne. Also in a figurative sense: will anyone dethrone the king of rock, the queen of pop? Religions have been molded in the image of monarchies. The gods feel their realms on thrones from those who rule the world. In the medieval art of Byzantine mosaics and Romanesque frescoes, and even in a famous painting by Van Eyck, an elliptical representation of the divinity made its fortune through...
04/09/2017

The chair is

A small letter of homage as a poem read by Alessandro Mendini in 1980 on the occasion of the anniversary of the Twenty Chairs in Twenty Years from Italian master Vico Magistretti. While the chair works the man rests. The chair is that thing formed by a few legs, a seat and a back. The chair is a chair, armchair, sofa, ottoman, stool and stool. The chair is the spatial dimension within all houses. The chair is made from wood, plastic, marble, cloth, iron, flesh, diamonds, bamboo, earth. The chair is the Cartesian axis of the Western man. The chair is...
28/08/2017

He who went to Seville, lost his chair

It is one of the proverbs learned as a child because it very graphically teaches them what can found in life. If you fall asleep or get confused, it may happen that when you return someone has taken your place. It has many popular deviations – quién fue a Morón, perdió su sillón [he who went to Morón, lost his armchair] – and it is actually poorly constructed as it should read “quien se fue de Sevilla, perdió su silla” [he who left Seville, lost his chair]. The saying is based on a historical fact. During the reign of Henry IV, between 1454 and 1474, the...
21/08/2017

Musical Chairs

In the game of musical chairs, participants do laps around a circle of chairs while music plays, and when it stops, they have to try to sit down ... But there is always a chair less than players. It is a simple game (the necessary elements are in every house and you only have to have a music playing device or someone who plays an instrument, or even just someone who can sing) and lends itself to a lot of hilarious situations. In the solemn atmospheres of the classical music auditoriums, the seats are also anecdotal: who hasn’t found themselves in the concert hall,...
14/08/2017

Gaudí and Direct Ergonomics

The architecture of Antoni Gaudí is a great focus of international attraction, as can be verified every day by Barcelona’s residents. But in addition to the buildings, there are a number of works by this artist that also powerfully attract attention: these are his domestic furniture designs, which were custom created for each of his clients. The most notable pieces are, without a doubt, his chairs: organic, warm, original. Gaudí designed chairs for some of his principal clients: Calvet, Batlló and Milà. In relation to some of these chairs an anecdote is told...
02/08/2017

In the Boudoir

In Italy in 1911, a poster by Marcello Dudovich caused a sensation for the Borsalino house, celebrated manufacturer of hats for men. Its luxury productions, marketed under the brand name Zenit, they exemplify like none other the atmosphere of an exclusive world that would soon disappear with the outbreak of World War I. Dudovich’s poster, with a predominance of yellow tones, shows a rococo chair with a bowler hat, a pair of men’s gloves and a cane. What are those accessories doing there? Who is the owner? For the elegant and refined environment, everyone...
01/08/2017

Historia de las Sillas by Silvio Rodríguez

For many it is one of the most beautiful songs of Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez. It is part of the album Live in Argentina, recorded in April 1984 with Pablo Milanés in Buenos Aires, a few months after the end of the dictatorship. Chairs, unlike the case with shoes, rarely appear in the songbook. Let everyone interpret it as they wish. At the edge of the road there is a chair, Rampaging around that place. The friend's coat is laid out, The friend does not sit down to rest. His shoes, worn, are mirrors Which burn his throat with the...
24/07/2017

He Did Not Know How to Sit

In 1931 a very prolific architect died in Barcelona, author of almost five hundred projects, many of them residences. It was the Marquis de Sagnier, who for nearly half a century of his professional career had built a large part of the modern city and had even left samples of his work in various parts of the world. In an obituary note, the values of comfort of the houses that Enrique Sagnier Villavecchia had designed and construction were celebrated, and they linked to his personality as a family man and father of a family, of pleasant association and with a full...
17/07/2017

The seat of love "designed" by Edward VII

Edward VII, King of Great Britain and Ireland, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, had a silent youth that dwarfs the bed-stories of the present British royal family. But it is also true that when he began his reign, at the beginning of the twentieth century, at the age of sixty, his virtues as a diplomat and statesman ended up making people forget the sins of his youth. However, in a history of the furniture of love, one cannot ignore his contribution to erotic fantasies in the field of design, because his Siège d’amour, an example of which is kept in the...
06/07/2017

There are chairs for rent

It is one of the popular sayings or expressions of the Catalan language that has neither a literal translation nor Castilian Spanish equivalent. It is used when someone behaves in an unprecedented or unconventional way and more correctly to refer to extraordinary situations that can generate expectation. Its origin is in the phrase s’hi llogaran cadires that was once pronounced by the town crier to announce a show. It was a kind of advertising slogan, because the offering of chairs to the public, even if they were for rent, meant that the show would be worth...
03/07/2017

Saint Atilano in his chair

As theAragonese are peaceful and ordinary men, no more typical than the “auroras” that they sing in Tarazona to the glorious Saint Atilano, patron of the city, and present the heavenly man sitting in his chair: “Tarazona is filled with joy because he has a child of faith and religion and he is named the glorious Atilano who benefits us with his protection. Happy scene: we have him seated in his chair in his own house where he was born”
26/06/2017

Manual for making a chair

Select, among various types of wood, the one you like the most for the shape and color: Birch - Maple - Boxwood - Mahogany – Chestnut - Cedar - Cherry - Poplar – Ebony - Oak - Beech - Walnut – Olive - Elm - Pine - Oak - Teak – Etc. Remember that the essentials of a chair are: Seat - Stile - Front legs – Rear legs – Rail/Apron – Backrest - Stretcher. Although you can add the decorative fantasies you like the most: Backrest base - Arms - Shell – Curtain - Foliage - Acanthus leaf – Palm tree - Motif - Bouquet - Scrolls – etc. Get the tools you...
12/06/2017

The chair of Homar

The most admired area of 20th century Barcelona is known as the Quadrat d'Or, the most central part of the Ensanche designed by the engineer Ildefons Cerdà, in which the well-to-do families of Catalonia decided to set up, promoting the construction of unique buildings in the most flourishing era of modernism. The Boixareu, owners of the thriving textile industries that prospered under the auspices of the First World War, decided to occupy the principal of these estates, they decorated without cost restraint in the style of modernism. The furniture maker entrusted...
05/06/2017

The best chair

Raül, an industrial designer, born and educated in Barcelona, with a master's degree from the Royal College of Art in London, and his wife, Candelaria, an interior designer from Gran Canaria, wanted to give their daughter some domestic object as a wedding gift. When asked what she wanted, Helena asked them for a chair for her desk. She let them choose, but she asked for the best chair, the most comfortable, the most practical, the most anatomical ... and the most modern. Searching for the most suitable seat, the parents refreshed their knowledge by checking...
29/05/2017

End-of-course work

The Gestalt Institute, the design school that advocated a technological and engineering option, proposed to its third year students an end-of-course project in which they should determine what, in their opinion, was the chair that best responded to the needs of the user anatomically, functionally, technically and economically. The work was very complex for the students who wanted to review the foremost designs made since 1914, that is to say, from the moment that the concepts of functionality, rationalism and industrialization definitively established themselves...
04/05/2017

The wingback chair of the Eternal Father

A good armchair is a sign of distinctive authority. In old times it was reserved for the patriarch, today women should proclaim their conquest of equality, sitting in the house wingchair. Interestingly, the most famous of all the wingback chairs – made in Italy since 1912 by a craftsman from Turin named Renzo Frau – had a feminine name (the “Poltrona Frau”). Upholstered with a smooth leather or capitonnée, the Frau armchairs created an unforgettable style in bourgeois homes. They became a symbol of wellbeing and power. The advertising was also original, as...
04/05/2017

Louis XIV announces "seated" his marriage with Marquise de Maintenon

The Palace of Versailles, where Molière triumphed, had been conceived as a fabulous scene. The King’s own life was a show. Louis XIV so much liked to live in the public view that he allowed access to any stranger who wanted to attend the ceremonies of the royal life: the awakening of the King, the lunch or outdoor walks. Thus indulged himself to announce his marriage to Marquise de Maintenon, seated in his business chair (an euphemism that refers to the most elemental of the comforts). To penetrate the royal apartments was no more than renting a hat and a...
04/05/2017

Manuel de Falla and his bunker of chairs

Manuel de Falla, the Spanish composer, was very much a hypochondriac. He didn’t have a strong constitution, but also suffered from minor illnesses (headaches, digestive disorders and rheumatic pains). He was so apprehensive that he was even afraid of the energetic hugs that the painter Zuloaga, a strongly built man from the Basque Country, gave him. Zuloaga recounted how he went to visit Falla in Granada, and the musician’s sister warned him not to get too close and hug him, because he was very weak. Zuloaga found him surrounded by chairs, protected in a...
12/04/2017

The old Spanish court and person responsible for keeping vigilance of the chair

The protocol of the Spanish court came to be, in the Golden Age, to excesses only surpassed in the Vienna of Franz Joseph. An honored Spanish lady should always keep her feet hidden. And the exigencies of the court etiquette at this point reached such extremes that no one could reference the feet of the queen, under penalty of incurring serious contempt. Perhaps we could find here the influence of the Semitic tradition. And the truth is that our kings lived as subject to the rules of the court as could be the High Priest to the rules of worship. Philip III, for...
12/04/2017

The chairs of geniuses

Salvador Dalí wore a 41; but when he painted, to stimulate his creativeness, he wore smaller shoes, specifically size 38. The discomfort activated ingenuity. In his Weimar home, Goethe wrote while sitting on a wooden trestle, like the “pommel horses” used by athletes in the Olympics. Rilke wrote standing up, at a high desk, also recited standing up and only sat to read. And in the Achilleion – the palace that Sisi built in Corfu – the office that Kaiser Wilhelm II used is preserved, with a kind of saddle where he sat to write.
12/04/2017

Take two seats

Charles de Morny was a famous French politician and banker, related to all of the aristocracy (he was the half-brother of Napoleon III). To explain his origins, he cynically said: “In my family we are bastards from parents to children. I am the great-grandson of a king, grandson of a bishop, son of a queen and brother of an emperor”. He did honor the descendants of the family, leaving numerous bastards: some well checked and others attributed by legend, such as Sarah Bernhardt. He inspired the character Monsieur Marsy in the novel His Excellency Eugene Rougon by...
12/04/2017

A chair for a hat

One of the rules of Hispanic etiquette, when you “capitulate” visits, was to show great admiration for the hat of the visitor. Arabs and Jews that inhabit the branches of our family tree could dutifully explain the reasons for this Eastern custom. “The courtesy that is paid to the hat of a particular gentleman - observes the great traveler Richard Ford – is remarkable, especially among the good provincial people: it is not permitted to have it in the hand or leave it on the floor. The friendly owner of the house excels in this crucial rite of hospitality, takes...
14/03/2017

The Ritz Hotel's chairs and bathtubs

Thanks to Edward VII, who had the habit of bathing in the company of his friends, hotel bathtubs became more comfortable. In view of complaints of discomfort of the bathtubs from the voluminous prince, Caesar Ritz decided to make them wider and more comfortable. The brilliant Ritz had solutions for everything. And just like how he commissioned the large bathtubs, he ordered the manufacturing of small furniture, when he dealt with more intimate spaces. Like this he decorated the Rue Cambon bar in his luxurious Place Vendome hotel in Paris. As the space was...
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