They say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, however, it is safe to say the exterior of 1000 chairs is a pretty accurate description of the contents of this particularly one. Written by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, world-renowned authorities on design, the book details the aesthetic, ergonomic and technological development of the chair over the past two centuries.
The introduction comprises of a fairly-philosophical six-page history of chair design, providing some interesting proposals about the importance of ‘seat furniture’ as facilitators of conversation, work and leisure.
In the main body of ‘1000 Chairs’ each page is dedicated to a different chair, from the beginning of the early 1800’s until the end of the 20th century. A small summary is given about each item of furniture, as well as details on the designer.
This book is more of a reference guide than an in-depth study. The volume of information comes from the breadth of chairs, rather than their specifics. Some of the designs may be familiar: Robin Day’s ‘Polyprop’ (page 327) is a reminder of those uncomfortable chairs we were told to not swing back on at school. And you might also recognise the ‘Indianna’ by D.T Amat (page 458) if you have ever sat outside a Spanish taverna. Towards the end of the book, the chairs become decidedly more funky with the 80s producing a large variety of colourful items.
The introduction to ‘1000 chairs’ acknowledges the influence that office seating has had on the evolution of chair design, with over 50% of people working at desks in some countries. Needless to say, a great deal of thought went into chairs around our own Fora work spaces; our desk chairs are from Scandinavian Business Seating and Emmegi. A small nod goes to Tom Dixon, too, who features on page 572, with some of his other designs onsite here at Central Street.
Overall, this book is a comprehensive exploration of seated-furniture design and while it might not have you glued to your seat, it is certainly an interesting reference to browse.
Chair I would most like to sit on:
The high sides and soft colours of Gaetano Pesce’s ‘I Feltri’ look both inviting and striking.
Chair I would least like to sit in:
Salavador Dali’s ‘Hands’ (page 188). The arms on this chair are literally spindly and grotesque looking hands… no thank you!
1000 Chairs by Charlotte & Peter Fiell was published by Taschen in 2013 and is just one of the many Taschen books you can enjoy in the Reading Room at Fora Central Street.
Review by Budelia – Resident Host and Reading Room Curator at Fora Central Street