|The Completed Chair|
Tracing the history of this ubiquitous piece of furniture in the minds of some goes back to the mid 20th century. Going back further two distinct ideas were formed that later coalesced. The first was the formed chair.
This innovation can be seen as far back as the mid 19th century, in the furniture of John Henry Belter of New York, NY. Belter created the backs for his chairs by laminating veneers of Rosewood over a shaped form. after the glue had set, the laminations retained the form. Belter would also turn the orientation of the laminations to give the backs strength, In essence creating the first plywood (although out of much fancier woods than used today.)
Below is an example of the formed back of a Belter chair:
Here is a link to a Belter chair I worked on a few years ago:
The other idea that ultimately lead to the plastic chair is the chair that can easily be mass produced. One of the first prominent attempts at this was the chair made by Michael Thonet. His bentwood chair relied on steam bending components over a form to create the lines and structure of the chair. Every part of this chair was shaped over a form to create the shape that has become Iconic. Below is an example of Thonet's Design.
On to the 20th Century, Charles Eames worked with laminations of Rosewood and Walnut to create what is now known as the Eames chair, taking a page from the earlier work of Belter. Also, Eames and other designers were working with plastics to create a chair that could be comfortable and mass produced. An example of Eames plastic chair is seen below.
The chair was very loose and needed to be tightened. Because of its shape, several different clamps needed to be used.
Happy April Fools Day from all of us at John Mark Power Antiques Restoration!