Book review: Chairs by Architects

Architects have a fondness for designing chairs. It stems from a long tradition – the pieces of furniture often acting as architectural manifestos, small tokens representing the ideology and style of the architect. David Adjaye says it is like a ‘testing ground for ideas that interest me’. The architect has worked with manufacturer Knoll on a number of projects including the 2013 Washington Skeleton and Washington Skin chairs. Furniture, he notes in an interview in Chairs by Architects, is a background. ‘There is something very powerful and very rewarding about that.’

This latest book by Thames & Hudson features fifty-five examples of work from the beginning of the nineteenth-century until now – chairs by early modernists Jean Prouve, Otto Wagner, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Antonio Gaudi and Walter Gropius, as well as contemporaries Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and David Adjaye.

Each product is placed alongside an example of the architect’s building work. Visually it works as a simple way of identifying the language of design. It is also intriguing to see how these highly accomplished architects tackle a smaller object as such.

Interviews with some of the architects and designers involved helps bring the subjects to life. Chairs by Architects is a book worth exploring.

Chairs by Architects is by Agata Toromanoff and published by Thames & Hudson.

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