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08.11.18

The Royal Garden chair

The Royal Garden chair is just a stool with a backrest, but what a back! A light support of steel tube rod that culminates with the drawing of a five-pointed crown topped with two spheres. This motif is replicated in the more harmless light fixtures. In the chairs, the design produces collateral damage. We listen to the manager of the premises that opens that same night to reproach the decorator: "Have you seen what happens? It's the fault of your chairs. They leave a mark!" Indeed, diners stand up wearing the dry stamp of the aforementioned crown on the jackets and the blazers.

 

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The Royal Garden chair from Play Time (1967) by Jacques Tati is a kind mockery. The chair, the restaurant and the whole city, Tativille. Everything is part of an immense set designed by Tati to produce a slight twist in the everyday, induce a faint smile and make us see the ridiculousness of modern urban life, the myths of consumption, progress and design; the mythological ones of the sixties. The chair is another piece of junk, objects / gag that populate this and other Tati movies*. This chair, however, is particularly ridiculous because it combines the pretensions of fashion and background. It is the coat of arms of the new-rich, a fatuous tinsel, a postage stamp whose groove is likened to a paper doll hung on the back on the Day of the Innocents. In the scenes of the Royal Garden, Tati rejoices by giving us a vision of the assembly and disassembly of both simulacrum. The desire to pretend from a social class of medium hair until they are touching; especially when they fall apart. This is what happens when the collapse of the physical and social scenery induced by the confusion of the norm, the volatilization of the label and the stupid clumsiness that triggers the mere presence of Hulot.

In the same movie other gags come from chairs. The raspberries of Tativille's office lounge chairs still seem like a vaporous, but impertinent, human revenge against the gods of architecture. Specifically, against one of the grimmest, Mies van der Rohe, and one of the cockiest, Le Corbusier.

* The scenography and props of this and other Tati films is owed to himself and the collaboration of Jacques Lagrange.

 
 
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