Before he advised the aerial 1962 TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, Eero Saarinen experimented with gravity-defying architecture through his one-legged white and red Tulip chair. Many architects accept acclimated the apprehensive armchair to try out new account or accept of commutual appliance for their buildings. Chairs by Architects by art historian Agata Toromanoff, out now from Thames & Hudson, juxtaposes 55 examples of these designs with the architects’ buildings.
“The relationships and similarities are generally surprising, and accession some absorbing questions,” Toromanoff writes in an introduction. “What is it that distinguishes a armchair advised by an architect, rather than a appliance designer? Why would an artist appetite to architecture one? Is it accessible to administer the artistic solutions acclimated for barrio to the architecture of furniture?”
The affidavit are absolutely varied, abnormally as the accord of the artist to the armchair has changed. In the backward 19th through to the mid-20th century, it wasn’t aberrant for an artist to architecture every allotment of a structure, central and out. Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, would plan a house right bottomward to its ablaze switches, anniversary aspect administration his audible aesthetic. His 1946 Taliesin West Chair, created for his home and flat in Scottsdale, Arizona, is built from one allotment of laminated birch, seeming to be bankrupt like origami. It was fabricated three years afterwards his Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, itself actualization to be one fluid, arched shape. Likewise, Eileen Gray’s 1927 Roquebrune armchair with its elegant, tubular legs and abeyant covering bench harmonizes with her masterpiece: the E1027 House in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.
Other chairs were fabricated with specific purposes in mind, demonstrating the architect’s accomplishment for functionality on a baby and ample scale. Josef Hoffmann’s 1905 “machine for sitting” for the Sanatorium Purkersdorf in Austria has a admirable geometric appearance agnate to barrio like his 1911 Palais Stoclet in Brussels, but can also be calmly reclined for patients. Alvar Aalto’s 1931 No. 41 armchair fabricated for the Paimio Sanatorium in Finland has a across-the-board bench to acquiesce accessible breath for those afflicted by tuberculosis, a adroit absorption to account aggregate by his 1971 Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. And about all of the chairs reflect an architect’s acknowledgment for raw materials; Jean Prouvé’s 1934 Standard Armchair austerely uses copse and steel, agnate to his 1945 Maison Démontable 8×8 with its prefabricated parts. Mies van der Rohe’s acclaimed 1929 Barcelona Armchair is aggressive by both addition and age-old Egyptian thrones, the two-part animate anatomy with its covering upholstery having as abundant accuracy in its architecture and apparent abstracts as his bottle and metal Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
The 160-page advertisement is abiding almost chronologically, with actual abrupt text, chased by interviews with abreast abstracts in design. One is artist David Adjaye, who confirms that the armchair is still an important allotment of his practice. “Designing a armchair presents the befalling to accurate my position — it’s like a testing arena for account that absorption me, and a adventitious to appoint in a assembly action with a abstruse team,” he says.
On a adjacent page, his Washington Skeleton and Washington Skin chairs are displayed, their cantilevered shapes formed from anxiously structured aluminum and able nylon. While it’s not included in the book, it’s accessible to analyze them to the new National Museum of African American History, on which he served as advance designer, with its casting brownish exterior. The chairs reflect its ascendance appearance in miniature.
Chairs by Architects by Agata Toromanoff is out now from Thames & Hudson.
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