397 Chairs

Based on an exhibition created by The Architectural League of New York

What is a chair?

One definition might be that anything that looks like a chair may be a chair. But if it can be sat in, then it is a chair. That was the definition propounded by The Architectural League of New York when its announced an exhibition of chairs designed and made within the last ten years. Some 400 furniture makers, craftspeople, architects, and graphic designers responded, and 397 of their entries are illustrated in this book.

The variety of the designers’ offerings is truly stunning. Made from all manner of materials—steel, fabric, aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, cardboard—the chairs range from serious, solid, utilitarian seats to whimsical creations like the “Mouskachair” with a Mickey Mouse face and the one that spells out “Hello There” on seat and back. Sculpted by hand or mass produced by such large, established firms as Steelcase and Knoll International, the chairs· seem as diverse and ingenious as the men and women who designed them.

Introducing this fabulous collection of contemporary chairs—which offer inspiration for decorating, home and office design, and further innovation in chairmaking—is a charming and erudite essay by the art critic of The Nation magazine, Columbia University professor Arthur C. Oanto, who himself holds a chair in the field of philosophy. Illustrating the 397 examples herein are the photographs of Jennifer Levy, which bring out the best in each maker’s craft.