100 Giants of Chair Design


September 9–October 29, 2000

Curated by Peggy Jacobs

Created by one of the world's leading design museums, this remarkable exhibition documents the development of modernism in chair design from the beginnings of industrial production in the mid 1800s through the 1990s. By focusing on chairs, it presents a comprehensive overview of the development of industrial design through these decades. As a form of seating, no other piece of furniture presents such diverse design possibilities as the chair, challenging artists, architects and designers to stretch the functional element of consumer goods. Accompanying these miniatures is a selection of documents from the archives of the Vitra Design Museum that places each chair in historical context and illustrates important stages in the creation of these masterpieces.

Beginning with the Windsor chair and another anonymous piece, of Shaker design, the exhibition presents the genius of such design giants as Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Marcel Breuer, Pierre Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Jens Risom, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames and Frank Gehry who also designed the Vitra Design Museum.

Why miniatures? Beside the obvious space consideration, the small scale (6:1) enables the viewer to see the entire piece at a glance and to understand and compare the proportions of each design. Each chair in this exhibition is a technically perfect replica reproduced in miniature scale, constructed of the same materials as the original and correct down to the slightest detail, including screws, supports and joints. The observer may examine the miniature with technical interest and also with the curiosity that small things have triggered in our imaginations since childhood. Randall Walker, designer with Charles and Ray Eames from 1968 through 1980, will speak about his work with the Eameses at a museum lecture on October 12th at 7 PM. Six of the chairs featured in this exhibit are Eames designs.

Special funding for this exhibition was provided by generous grants from Irv Simpson and The Simpson Family Fund, and Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan.

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