Monday, April 6, 2009

Take a Seat

Jasper Morrison believes that furniture design is all too often appreciated only in a visual way through magazines and media exposure. That is why it was important for him to permit visitors to try out the 21 chairs of his design at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in his exhibit, Take a Seat. As he says, we are all chair experts in the sense that we all know immediately if a chair is comfortable or not. As much as we might admire its curves and angles, a chair is not a piece of sculpture.

Does the perfect chair exist? There always seems to be something to criticise; they are either too expensive, too strange looking, or their back legs are too easy to stub our toes against. Is the back too low, too high, or too straight? Is it too heavy, too noisy, not stable enough ? In fact, there is never a sole solution. Morrison strives to perfect existing designs rather than aiming at innovation for innovation's sake. His goal is to make everyday items a pleasure to use without any gimmicks intended to sell them and that will quickly pass out of fashion. Along with fellow designer, Naoto Fukasawa, he coined the expression "Supernormal" to refer to this philosophy of lasting values for ordinary objects.

The Thinking Man's Chair (1986/2009 Cappellini, Italy) was inspired by an antique chair with a missing seat. With two small "tables" at the end of each armrest, it was destined to be called The Drinking Man's Chair. When working with pipe cleaners to make a model he noticed the brand's slogan, "the thinking man's smoke." Morrison immediately thought better of his first title.

Plywood Chair (1988 Vitra, Switzerland) Morrison made this chair himself from birch plywood sheets and a jigsaw. Another model exists with the back filled in, which the designer says is more comfortable but less exciting.

La Tourette (1998) was comissioned by the La Tourette monastery to replace its noisy delapidated refectory chairs. The monastery is located in Eveux north of Lyon and was designed by Le Corbusier. Morrison spent time here admiring the architecture and finding inspiration in its chapel benches with similar floor rails. He feels they lend the chairs a somewhat religious nature. They must also help to fulfill a technical requirement -- that of quiet chairs ! The chair is made of oak and teflon. Should we recommend it to parents of babies learning to walk?

Cork (2007 Vitra, Switzerland, 2007) Originally designed as small side tables, but most people take them as stools. There exist several shape variations that are made of recycled cork stoppers -- a material that is waterproof, rot proof, even termite proof.

Pipe (2008 Magis, Italy) The lacquered aluminum Pipe chair uses bicycle making techniques to create one of the strongest chairs ever made. This armchair version has the addition of resin reinforced plywood made with old, east German technology which is equally strong but warmer in character.

No comments:

Post a Comment