Chairs by Architects by Agata Toromanoff 2016

In one of a long line of wonderful art and architecture books, Thames & Hudson has published this beautiful volume highlighting the chairs designed by many of the world’s most famous architects from Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s 1835 cast iron armchair through Julien de Smedt’s 2011 bone chair.  The 55 architects are arranged in birth order in two page layouts, one page featuring their iconic chair and one featuring one of their best known buildings.  From Breur, Gropius, and LeCourbusier in the early 20th C to Zaha Hadid, Steven Coll, Frank Gehry, and David Adjaye in the 21st, the  photographs are beautiful and the author does a fine job connecting the design concepts uniting chair and building.  Why do architects who often design entire urban landscapes feel the need to tackle the chair?  Hints are given throughout the book, but the best answer comes from Adjaye, the architect of the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History in DC, who says the following in one of the four interviews that conclude the book:  “Designing a chair gives me the opportunity to express my position—it is like a testing ground for ideas that interest me, and a chance to engage in a production process with a technical team….It is an exploration of the body in space.”

This is a fun book to dip into over days, sit and enjoy the photos as well as learn about some of the leading architects of the last 200 years and how they express themselves in the simple chair.