The Art of Seating

The structural objects that give us the ability to sit above the ground is a subject that has not seen the attention it so dully deserves.

The Driehaus Museum’s newest exhibit features 37 distinct American chairs that span a period of two centuries. The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design explores the concept of form and function through structural objects created between the years of 1810 and 2010 and will be on display form February 10th through August 12, 2018.

The exhibit acts as a page from history. The glimpse into the past lays a landscape for the scope of the chairs design evolutions. The progression of American culture and the influence of societal trends can be seen in the collection of chairs that historians, architects and designers look to today as the standard of seating.

 Designed by Harry Bertoia (1952); Photograph provided by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn

Designed by Harry Bertoia (1952); Photograph provided by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn

“This exhibition isn’t just about chairs, but how we relate to comfort, style, even power,” says Rena Zurofsky, Interim Executive Director of the Driehaus Musuem. “It is intriguing to view objects crafted in the 21st century within the Gilded Age splendor of the Nickerson Mansion, as the Driehaus Museum typically explores the finest decorative arts of the late 19th to the early 20thcenturies.”

Inevitably, in order to move forward, one must first look to the past. The 37 design pieces show the industrialization and expansion of American technology, but the art of craftsmanship is the oddity that seems to never go out of style.  The stylistic journey features designs by Vivian BeerHarry BertoiaFrank Lloyd Wright, and Warren McArthur to name a few.

 Designed and Manufactured by Vivian Beer (1977); Photograph provided by Douglas J. Eng

Designed and Manufactured by Vivian Beer (1977); Photograph provided by Douglas J. Eng

 Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1938) Photograph by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1938) Photograph by Michael Koryta and Andrew VanStyn

 

Architects and designers that have influenced the structural furniture designs are hand chosen by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation for the traveling exhibition.

A chance to glimpse inside the history of style and design in America is a rare occurrence—the chance to view one-of-a-kind structural pieces by famed architects is equivalent to finding a Herman Miller Eames chair at a garage sale.