Old Times

Today’s picture is a side chair. It is the first chair I ever made. Its design comes from a metal chair at a desk in my shop, a step back chair, and some chairs I saw in a picture of work done by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Each of them had something I liked, and something I didn’t. The desk chair had some of the angles I was trying to find, but it had a standard metal frame and upholstery on the seat and the back. After examining it, I had the angle the back and legs came out of the seat, but I didn’t have the angle the seat had to tilt back in order to get a comfortable chair. I found that by examining a dining room chair we had.

The next came from a step back chair. This is an old design with a lot of examples The thing I liked about it was the three slats going horizontally across the back. Most of the examples, however, looked so rustic as to be boring.

Finally, I got to thinking about some chairs I’d seen in one of the pictures of his Chicago houses by Frank Lloyd Wright. I liked the balance between the height below and above the seat. What those chairs didn’t seem to have was comfort.

Comfort was an entirely different issue. I’d read an article detailing how chairs were being made in California (I believe) strictly according to the physiological requirements of a specific individual. This didn’t make much sense to me because a chair, if it’s made well, usually lasts longer the person who owns it. I had to try to find an average comfort. I did this by trying an angle of seat to back and ground along with a design of the back. I then made one and took it around to festivals, inviting people to sit in it. I found a design that worked between 65 and 80 percent of the time. Each time I asked what the person would change, what he or she liked.

This chair comes from my old times.


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