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"history" Tag


The Seven Series Chair – much more than an icon


Thursday, February 15, 2018

What is a design icon, and how does a design become one? It is clear that the Seven Series Chair is a well known chair that you often see. It is also clear it has been a solid element in a so called good taste interior setting since it got designed in 1955. But what makes the Seven Series Chair so timeless and popular that it has stayed on the market ever since it got released?

As mentioned the Seven Series Chair got designed in 1955, three years later than its bigger brother, the Ant. Arne Jacobsen, the designer behind, was as many other designers in the 50’s experimenting with different materials to get the maximum out of its potential. Especially plywood had Jacobsen’s interest, and from that material he created a shaped bend shell resting on a fundament of thin steel legs. The shell chair was born.

 

Arne Jacobsen

The organic simple shape of the Seven Series Chair is unique. It is easily recognisable and suitable for lots of different settings which many brands during the time have made use of in various advertising campaigns. But everything has a start, and so did the Seven Series Chair.

It all started with a scandal caused by an affair, The Profumo Affair. A young, attractive woman called Christine Keeler, who was working as a topless waitress and model, had an affair with an English politician, John Profumo. But Keller didn’t only sleep with one, she had several lovers, and another of them was a Russian naval attache, Yevgeny Ivanov. When Keeler’s different affairs got revealed, Profumo was forced to stand down.

Because of the cold war, there were speculations about Keeler passing state secrets to the Soviet Union, which made the scandal even more remarkable.

But how does the scandal relate to the icon status of the Seven Series Chair? In the 60’s the famous photographer Lewis Morley shot a series of nudes of Christine Keeler. She was sitting the wrong way around on a Seven Series Chair. Ironically the chair used in the shooting showed not to be Arne Jacobsen’s famous chair but a simple copy. However, the shoot caused a boom in the sale of the original chair.

 

Christine Keeler

But simply because the chair got popular doesn’t mean that it right away became an icon. Becoming an icon demands a timeless, futuristic design that goes well in various settings, from old farmer houses to minimal modern glass buildings. An example of a design icon is Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer, Juicy Salif. It is easily recognisable and futuristic in its shape. One can argue that the Seven Series Chair has what is needed to become an icon since it is also timeless, futuristic and classic at the same time. But the two designs don’t only share the same adjectives, they are also both exhibited in the permanent design exhibition of MOMA in New York.

 

Juicy Salif, Philippe Starck, Alessi

Another reason for the Seven Series Chair’s icon status is that the chair is associated with not only good taste but also wealth. Since the price of the chair starts around 400 euros it isn’t the cheapest chair at the market. The chair, is so to speak a symbol of good taste, wealth, and quality. It is an easy, safe choice that guarantee class and wealth.

Personally I find the Seven Series Chair interesting because of its beautiful, simple design and good quality. I believe that if you once by a good, timeless product you don’t have to replace it by time. But of course it gets replaced and ends up in another setting, in another home, once in while, and that, I think, is the most interesting. You don’t throw good design out, you sell it or give it away, and that means, that a chair as the Seven Series Chair can have a lot history.

Imagine a chair that started its life in an institution, then it continued its journey to a second hand shop, where a family bought it and had it for years. And then, when the son of the family moved out of home, he got it with him. Imagine how many different people who have sit on the chair. Imagine how many stories they have carried, and how many stories the chair now carries. That is true iconic design for me.

 

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ART, A LINK TO HISTORY


Monday, December 9, 2013

 

1979 was the year of victories, revolutions, delusions and cultural innovations; it was the year of the end of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, the year of the independence of Catalonia and Basque country, the year of Francis Ford Coppola’s „Apocalypse Now“ and the year of the invention of the IKEA Billy bookshelf.

 

But why do I all of a sudden care about this particular year? Was that year mentioned in the news lately? Or did something happen in that year that I have a connection to?

 

The year 1979 got my attention through the “Werker 2″ Magazine I found in the “San Serriffe” Bookstore [x] in Amsterdam.

 

werker2_magazine

 

Werker 2 – A magazine edition designed by Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos for the exhibition „1979, A Monument to Radical Instants“ curated by Carles Guerra in 2011 in the Virrena Centre de la Imatge of Barcelona dealing with the issues of daily life in crisis of working class young men.[x]

 

With photographs and texts selected from secondhand publications – printed enlarged in blue-white – they show us the history of young men at work,  of unemployment and of protests. In the very special way they stage the pictures in the magazine, it becomes very obvious that photography was and is still a medium that communicates the essence of a situation.

 

Skimming through the pages of the magazine I get roped into the images and texts and I am interested to learn more about the historical context.

 

Why do these old photographs fascinate me so much that I want to know more about them? And would it be the same if I saw them in an ordinary news paper? What is the link between design / art and history?

 

A lot of artists or designers are dealing with these kind of questions. In our time, in which everything is well designed and life is getting faster with every new technical invention, our eyes are used to being attracted to things that look nice and are easy to get.

 

That is why it is getting more and more important that art and design connect with history and trigger people with unusual visual elements into getting interested in whats happening all over the world, about history and its connection to today, since a lot of people don’t even read the newspaper anymore. They don’t bother reading long articles anymore, especially if the layout is unattractive and uninviting.

 

Not only Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfons are dealing with this issue. Other artists since the post-mordern movement, like Ai Wei Wei, El Anatsui and Allan Sekula who also appears in “Werker 2″ magazine, are discussing political events with photographs and philosophical essays.

 

Such political photographs or artworks have there own language which is mostly stronger than just an article in a news paper, because the artists automatically point out their own view on happenings in a visual way. This brings the topics and concerns closer to the audience. It is often so, that we feel more connected to things as soon as we see that these things bring up emotions in other people to which we can relate.

 

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By zooming into old secondhand publications and combining text with images, the two designers Blesa and Delfos display the line between the different worker-movements during the 20th century. They take us on a journey through history in a very atmospheric manner. This intrigues me. The blue-white colours take away the old notion about the photographs and translate them into a modern design. With this simple „trick“ they show us that history from back then is still fundamental in today’s daily life.

 

To me, this issue of the “Werker” Magazine makes it very clear that design is very important – if you want to reach people, arouse their interest and trigger their emotions, the layout is very decisive. Don‘t just string together texts, add some pictures and that‘s it. Such a design is outdated in the present media world. But if you present your content in a form which is entertaining and at the same time visually attractive, you will not only attract attention, but also lay a bridge between a interesting topic and an interested audience. I think that Blesa and Delfos have mastered this challenge in their “Werker Magazine”[x] in a very succesful way.

 

werker2_magazine2

Rietveld library catalog no: magazine

The Dark Side Of The Chair


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It is funny and scary in the same time to which result I was leaded this time of researching by using the tags chair, history and portrait. The book is dark on the back and the front and shows an image of a chair, the unclear shape of a phantom which covering the shine of its own ghost, heavy and stiff but the best thing is the book is German. Another German book about the history of chairs and again the title of the book is making me to laugh again. “z.B. Stühle: Ein Streifzug durch die Kulturgeschichte des Sitzens” is for me as well absurd and funny as my first choice in the library “A Chair makes history”. This time the book introduces itself as a guide through the cultural history of SITTING, which I think is the most funniest and beautiful way to find a title to describe the history of a design object, which function is mostly to relax the human bag and ass.
As well as last time the image shows no longer a simple picture of a chair, it is almost again a portrait of a chair which you can find on the front cover of the book, but this time tis image becomes for me to something strange. While the last book I took had a really bright and sort of funny, colorful, cover, which was perfectly hanging together with the title, the book “z.B. Stühle” has a really dark and heavy appearance. Without the title and the text it could be misunderstood as a book about satanic rituals with chairs or dark spiritual experiences with chairs but not as a leader through the history of sitting. The title in relation to the book cover design is for me a big paradox. The title “z.B. stühle” which means “for example chairs” sounds really easy, like “let’s talk about something, for example chairs or trees” which is really well supported by the text below. It sounds cool and relaxed, while the book cover is dark and heavy and doesn’t represents coolness at all to me, rather an image of violent and brutal history, which might be also presented in the book, for example chairs as torturing instruments. All in all the most interesting point is that the tags which I used for the research are leading back to a book which is almost as well absurd in its appearance as the first book I’d choose about the history of chairs. It seems to be not easy to write or create a good or well-chosen title for a book about chairs without letting it sounding absurd.

Rietveld Library cat.nr:774.9

A Book Makes History?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

When I search for a book in a library or in a book store the design as well as the title of the book has to be eye catching, recognizable for me and outstanding in its own appearance between hundreds or even thousands of books, especially if I’m not searching for something specific and have to walk through an overwhelming sea of letters and information’s.
Therefore the title, the subject or the design of the book doesn’t have to be beautiful or about something I’m interested in, it could be anything from an absurd, paradox, nonsense title/subject to an extremely kitschy, not aesthetically attracted cover design. The most important thing for me is to not only recognize it in ways of attraction rather as well in ways of questioning the whole appearance, the first impression of it.
The first book that got my attention was the German book “Ein Stuhl macht Geschichte” from Werner Möller and Otkar Mácel, a book about different design chairs of an exhibition in the Bauhaus Dessau in 1992. It was not the subject which interested me; it was the title which first made me laugh. Normally I would connect the sentence “A chair makes history” not with a chair, something that makes history for me are people or certain happenings in the past history which are responsible for certain effects on our society or changing points in our systems of thinking or culture as well as political behaviors.  Of course I can see that the design of some of the chairs could have had a certain influence on a new way of living, a new lifestyle but I still see the title connected to a persona or a personification, a group of people or a movement which changed something more life essential than a chair (which mostly just changed something in the “history” for a smaller group of people). To be honest I think it was just absurd and funny for me to use such a personifying sentence for some object like a chair, which you basically use to relax your ass.
The Cover in that context to this thought was even more interesting, you can see on the front as well as on the back page black and white images of different Bauhaus chairs which have for me the appearance of old portraits of important figures of the human history, covered by a big black and white image of a Mies van der Rohe chair. For me that was definitely an interesting way of the personifications of chairs in context to the title as something historically important, almost holy, like the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m looking right now at the book and I’m still impressed by just the visual effect of it. I think it is the first time that I’m actually more interested in the cover as in the subject of the literature.

Rietveld Library cat.nr: 774.4-cat-20


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