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Tracing the designs of 4 basic chairs
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:38 am    Post subject: Tracing the designs of 4 basic chairs Reply with quote

Four pieces of free standing furniture are mainstays to FLW interiors. Subtle changes and broader make-overs, mark different interpretations for specific clients or buildings but the 3 furniture "ideas" weave throughout the timeline of his career, Victorian- Prairie School - Usonian. Do you agree with these relationships? What were the first versions? etc.?

ONE: the Barrel chair evolves into the [circle} side chair

TWO: the [box] chair evolves into the [origami] easy chair

THREE: the ottoman evolves into the Usonian hassock

FOUR: the square spindle straight back [side or dining] chair evolves into the perforated straight high back panel dining evolves into the low slant back panel (dining) chair
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

palli-

i like this idea!

category one is good, and needs to include the metal circular form chairs also: midway, johnson wax, etc.

category two and three are good.

category four is a bit strange for me, because i don't think that the spindle chair evolves first into the perforated high back usonian chair and later the low back chair. isn't the perf high back chair almost a nostalgic look back to the high back spindle chairs? i think the larkin chairs (with their de stijl stylings) evolve naturally into the usonian plywood chairs.

maybe category four should have a straight back and a slant back subcategory, or a category four and five.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

is darwin martin, 1904, the first "barrel" chair or circular form chair by wright?

william morris 1858!, josef hoffman, josef maria olbrich, adolf loos, mackay hugh bailie scott preceding...
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

contemporary reproduction of darwin martin chair:

http://www.fitzwilliam.com/chairbR.jpg
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm ruminating....seems you guys have the taxonomy bug too!

PeterM: The dining set was sort of unresolved for me too. The permutations dining chairs have gone through are vast and reflect, I think, a greater change in the social function chairs around a meal table than other forms of seating. The dining chair certainly in the active Usonian house were "all purpose" chairs requiring portability and a broader range of balance to support a greater variety of body positions.

Wright's early stick and panel "Rietveldian" chairs also confuse the timeline.

My visual mind has to put some graphics together to think out when the perf high backs returned in Usonians. The early ones: Jacobs and G-W and Pope were low slant backs...yes you are right. The perf chairs were a throwback...which was the first ? Why did it happen?

The Johnson Wax circle chairs certainly are in that first set. These chairs were only Johnson Wax and only produced by Steelcase for Johnson Wax? right? I saw patent papers on eBay just yesterday and Michael and I discussed the relationship with the circle chair. BTW, when was the 4 legged chair designed - from the beginning or later when need arose?

eBay information: cgi.ebay.com/US-Patent-for-a-FRANK-LLOYD-WRIGHT-Chair-116-3_W0QQitem auction ends 1/17/09
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3714
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't the original (and unstable) Hanna house chairs have perfs in them? I vaguely remember a pic of them in the Hanna's book or the the Hanks book. Help SDR!
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the earliest perfs in usonian chairs were simple rectangular cutouts used for handles. i think the hanna chairs had these.
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PeterM, Good to go back to Hanna- a direct foil to Jacobs

See if others would be of like mind with me on this: I decided during the hassock taxonomy not to call handholes perfs...I dithered over this because there is a variety of cut-out shapes. The clincher for me was relating the cut shape to any other design motif ...I couldn't seem to do that... the function seems to be the only intent.

We live with the crafted working copy of the Penfield chairs for both houses I & II, the second is a straight back with cutouts and added painted squares chair (not as Baroque as Loveness); I call that perf. But the dining chair with the habdhols I would never related to perf boards.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we will go with that distinction... handhole cutouts are not perfs
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

is hanna (1937) maybe wright's first all plywood chair? willey and jacobs are both solid wood.
i need to check dates for schindler...
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rm schindler's unit furniture for the van patten house is from 1934. all plywood dining chairs and table. i only have photos in books. sdr?

van patten living room unit chair, plywood and solid

http://www.pushpullbar.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=9546&stc=1&d=1137172709

van patten sofa
http://www.architonic.com/4104220
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6039
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

palli said:

"We live with the crafted working copy of the Penfield chairs for both houses I & II, the second is a straight back with cutouts and added painted squares chair (not as Baroque as Loveness); I call that perf. But the dining chair with the habdhols I would never related to perf boards."

penfield house (1955) chairs:

high straight back with perfs. are these the same as yours, palli?

http://www.penfieldhouse.com/photos.htm
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17339
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good topic. Perhaps my place will be to further confuse the issue, with surprises or "out-of sequence" designs. At any rate, I can provide some
images, as usual.

Here are two such, from the Hannas' book. Get a load of that wild easy chair ! Essentially three-legged, and top-heavy to boot. Even the dining
chairs get narrower at the bottom. He never learned. . .







My take on the Van Patten pieces is that they are odd, ugly and essentially irrelevant. They are akin to Sardi's: A 'thirties Deco dalliance
for Schindler, who had more original fields to plow. The curious bulging upholstery of these living-room pieces results from a play with geometry,
and with the idea to make a fully-exposed convertible sofa. Of course, we are interested in any modular or "unit" designs, wherever they occur.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 17339
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking for clear lines of succession in design, simple progression from one formal idea to the next, within one person's work or between
designers, is bound to be frustrating. Creative persons know that ideas come from a variety of places, or from "nowhere," and out of sequence.
We can find trails: there are photos of cube and barrel chairs which echo Wright's and which were published before his own designs. And there are
pieces by Wright which predate by a decade or more some constructivist European works. Also, designers and artists can be expected to return to
their own ideas when the inspiration strikes, developing them for new times.

None of this should discourage us from trying to make sense of it all. We can be the Darwin or the Audubon of Wright's work, and learn something
in the process -- as well as having the pleasure of revisiting some cool objects and perhaps seeing some of them in a new light. But I wouldn't
expect a neat "table of elements" to result from the labors; Wright of all architects was so fecund, and so restless, that his output will defy all
efforts at neat classification, I'm afraid. After all, such a clearly-defined catalog was nowhere on his to-do list.

That said, carry on !


SDR
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PeterM- Years ago Michael was asked by Paul to make a Penfield II dining chair for his father...it is the one now standing under the Penfield I staircase. (We have the working model.) Louis Penfield began the second house by teaching himself how to work with the stone material- he got so interested he co-authored a book about laying stone and built instead a small studio for himself. We have the working model of the dining chairs as well. Paul built those making his own veneer vacuum machine and using wood from the trees on the land that have grown up since the house was built.
The contrast between the chairs is stark and speaks to the essence of each house...

SDR- so right and surely even more so with Wright with so much material to work with, so many years of thinking and making. Not to mention the joys and complications created by the nature of the learning environment and the skills and ideas of the apprentices. What I look for are the jumps, ideas that have time warped forward or rethought backward. It's often a subjective process and dialogue with others keeps it more honest.


Last edited by Palli Davis Holubar on Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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