Investigation Into Chair Design Essay

1287 words - 5 pages

Investigation into Chair Design

For my Investigation into chair designs I choose to investigate how simplistic and basic the chairs have become. From Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who was renowned for his style and applied decoration to Philippe Stark who has taken simplistic to another level. I have investigated how the designers have used applied decoration to enhance the look of their chair, to how functional the pieces are (or in some cases un-functional! ).


Mackintosh produced designs on a whole range of furnishings as well as his architectural designs. Many of these were purely functional but he also produced many ‘artistic’ pieces throughout his life. Because of the large amount of applied decoration on Macintosh’s pieces that it could be argued that each piece is a finely detailed work of art itself.

Probably the most famous of such pieces are his famous high backed chairs. The high backed chair I have chosen to study was made for the International Exhibition of modern Decorative Art, held in Turin in Italy in 1902

The chair appears to have a very low seat, being only a quarter of the height of the actual chair, this also may perhaps be due to the fact the seat is fairly broad at the front, widening out from a fairly narrow back. The back of the chair is as wide as the back of the seat but tapers towards the top. This main support is framed with two tall slim struts.

The construction of the low seat and tapering back makes the chair look almost abstract because of these bizarre proportions. In the photograph it looks as if the picture has been taken from a strange angle which has distorted the shape.

There is little in the way of applied decoration on the chair except for the back, which on a portion is padded and covered in a light blue-grey colour. On this is a painted stylised rose bush design that fills the width of the padded portion. Beneath this is what appears to be wilting petals falling from the bush. At the top of the chair carved into a piece of wood is an organic form of sorts with the typical Art Nouveau whiplash stretching the length of it. Mackintosh was renowned for his stylised design - taking the natural form of something, for example a flower, and altering it to fit his style - this could possibly be a very developed stylised design Against the white wood work of this design is a sort of mauve glass shape incorporated into the organic form.

In my opinion there came a time in Macintosh’s career where his high backed chairs became so unfunctional that they were merely being produced to be pleasing to the eye. They were almost made as sculptures and not for their practicality.


As compared to Mackintosh’s high backed chair Peter Karpf’s NXT Stacking chair is extremely functional. This simple looking chair is constructed from one piece of wood joined using metal rods and a number of small disks to give it it’s flowing...

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