The chair: we sit on one every day in our homes, schools or offices. Yet how often do we think about the origins of the chair and its place in the world? After all, the human body is more suited to sitting on the ground than on a chair, and some chairs even cause back problems. Yet the chair is arguably an object that marks our place in the modern world: it holds our bodies above the floor and in a seated position, sending signals about the sitter and even the designer.
In this book Anne Massey provides an anatomy of the chair and looks at how we interact with others in predetermined ways when seated. As she argues, the chair can communicate the authority of the owner, the sitter, and even the creator. Massey explores how, particularly in the last one hundred years, the chair has become a revered object of design. Chairs, such as the Eames Lounge chair, Verner Panton’s S Chair, the Aeron office chair have been photographed, exhibited in art museums, and slavishly copied in knock-off cheaper models. Other chairs have reached iconic status simply through their everydayness: think of Van Gogh’s chair, or the way Shaker chairs have become emblematic of a simpler and purer lifestyle. Massey further examines how chairs have been crafted, constructed from materials in plentiful supply locally, to their global manufacture. In doing so she elucidates the meaning of the chair in contemporary culture, as well as the development of the designer’s and manufacturer’s relationship with this pivotal object.
Drawing on design and art, popular culture and personal experience, Chair is an engaging and informative biography of this everyday object, and will appeal to anyone interested in why we choose, or are made, to sit on the chairs we do.