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Pull Up a Seat to ‘Chairpedia’

In honor of Spanish furniture brand Andreu World’s 65th anniversary, the company releases Chairpedia, a coffee table book telling 101 stories about chairs.

By Rachel Gallaher

Book cover in black and white, black background with white chair, Chairpedia, 101 Stories of Chairs

A design-world staple, the humble chair is both a blank canvas for creative minds and an easily overlooked no-frills necessity.

From the executive-status Eames lounger to Warren Platner’s elegant Armchair (with a design based on a period Louis XV-style chair), most design buffs can identify at least a dozen iconic chair profiles from the past hundred years.

But when it came to Chairpedia, released earlier this fall in honor of Spanish furniture brand Andreu World’s 65th anniversary, the company wanted to take things in a less predictable direction. The result of a project that began to take shape five years ago, the 200-plus-page book, published through La Fábrica, features contributions from writers and historians on the subject of the chair, to help spread its history and culture with a more entertaining and not-so-academic approach.

Graphic art of modern chair, tan background, black chair, black square, red square, Illustration for 'Chairpedia' by Antonio Solaz. Courtesy of La Fábrica

Illustration for 'Chairpedia' by Antonio Solaz. Courtesy of La Fábrica.

Comprising 101 illustrations, 21 portraits, and 245 drawings of chairs, the tome features stories of humor, history, and nostalgia: Alfred Hitchcock’s use of a wooden rocking chair for Mrs. Bates in his 1960 thriller Psycho (“A rocker is just a rocker, unless it ends up in an Alfred Hitchcock movie,” notes Oriol Pibernat), the mixed-feelings about the classic cheap folding aluminum beach chair that probably lives somewhere in your garage with its gang of not-often-used friends (Isabel Campi asserts that, “The lawn chair has it all: lightweight, rust-resistant, easy to store, and effortless to carry.” She also writes that “the curved legs make them wobbly, and if you lean too far to the side they tend to topple over. The metal bar on the back of the seat digs into your buttocks, and the one on the front digs into your thighs, cutting off circulation.”) And so on with many of the classics (the Barcelona, the Aeron, the Bertoia), as well as musings about more esoteric subjects such as the first chair, Homer’s chair, and the game of musical chairs.

Graphic illustration of vintage chairs in yellow, red and black pen and ink. Graphic for 'Chairpedia' by Antonio Solaz. Courtesy of La Fábrica

Graphic for 'Chairpedia' by Antonio Solaz. Courtesy of La Fábrica.

“Each chair tells us its own story and they all fit here,” La Fábrica writes in its press release. “Even those in which the design is not the fundamental part. The chair goes a long way because it is the queen piece in the history of furniture and that history can be explained with the same rigor as others that have already been written, but with a more open and plural view, with contributions from a good number of specialists, all of them accredited historians of design, architecture, or art, from different generations and geographical origins. With this, we did not want to pontificate, but rather learn from those who know the most and share that knowledge with the readers.”


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