About The Exhibition

Done. Undone. Redone: The Chair

The evolution of the chair depends upon the human body and the history of previous designs. Chairs are both ordinary objects and products of high art and design. The challenge of design is to balance form and function: it is as important to look at a chair as it is to sit in it. This exhibition explores the morphology of chair design and the 'object-ness' of the chair as a sculptural statement.

The origin of a chair often begins with material choice and availability, engineering, and methods of production, sifted through the aesthetics of the designer. Chairs document the shifts in style and taste of an historical moment. From hand-carved to mass produced, chairs directly reflect the cultural, economic, and technological circumstances in which they were conceived. Furniture has always had a close relationship with architecture and chairs best reflect that partnership as they mediate and articulate the space between the environment and the body.

Chairs raise questions about comfort and discomfort. Though the body may be the unit of measure, some chairs foreground ergonomic considerations more than others. Framing the body, they invite us to bear in mind where we might place our arms or how we might arrange our legs and feet. Consider one’s body language in each chair ― casual or proper, slouching or stiff, insouciant or upright. The chair invites us to act upon our corporeal relationship to the material object, and once put to use, determines the physical and psychological well-being of the sitter.

The works of art on view here range from the eighteenth century, when the modern notion of comfort originated, to present day, with an enduring veneration of modern icons, and reveal both the rejection and the revisiting of earlier styles. From local heroes to designers of international fame, this exhibition features objects from the Architecture and Design Collection of the AD&A Museum, complemented by generous loans. With an eye for innovation, each designer finds an elegant solution or makes a bold statement with a chair that captures the spirit of an age.

This exhibition has been curated by Lilit Sadoyan, Curatorial Fellow, AD&A Museum and Doctoral Candidate, History of Art & Architecture.