Sitting in Style
5 Maine creatives discuss their favorite designer chairs
It’s no secret that one of the most popular (and enigmatic) items to design is the chair. Take a look at the numerous design lessons MH+D editor Danielle Devine has written over the years: of the 45 articles published, 10 of them have been about chairs. With models as different as the Proust Chair and the Bubble Chair, this relatively simple piece of furniture can be redesigned, rethought, and backwards engineered into hundreds of iterations—some that focus on comfort, some on aesthetics, some that hit the sweet spot and achieve both—but all of which serve a common purpose: providing a place of respite, however briefly. We interviewed five members of Maine’s design community to learn what chair has stuck with them throughout their careers, and why they love it.
The TOGO chair is absolutely one of my favorites—and it has transcended time. It’s just as chic, beautiful, and evocative now as it was when Michel Ducaroy premiered it in 1973. For me, it’s both casual and fancy; that’s a combination that I dream about. It looks like a pillow resting on the floor, but the form is so sophisticated that you know there’s real creativity on display. It almost invites you to throw yourself down, sink in, and relax. I would feel very comfortable placing this chair, or one of its configurations, in a house of any age or design.
—David Duncan Morris, director of the residential studio at Woodhull of Maine
Hans Wegner’s CH24 Wishbone Chair. I love its beautiful curved lines so much. It’s having a bit of a moment now, so I hesitated to list this as my pick, but the truth is, I think it’s such a classic, and its enduring design will survive any trend. Its curves and natural paper cord seat lend it a softness and femininity, and I think it welcomes personalization via a sheepskin throw or custom cushions. Someday, I will have a set of these at my dining table!
—Jocelyn O Dickson, founder and principal of Jocelyn O Dickson Architecture
Funnily enough, I do have a love affair with chairs, although, as a landscape designer it isn’t something I’m often called on to talk or think about professionally! I’d pick the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen. The Danish designer is well known for his architecture and furniture design, but it’s his lifelong work with the landscape that first exposed me to him. As a landscape architecture student, I was deeply influenced by the functional yet elegant simplicity he espoused in creating landscape spaces, and re-imagining a modern experience of indoor-outdoor living. His designs for small-scale and garden-suburb housing included an integrated vision of architecture and landscape that just made sense to me: being less about high-concept flash, and more concerned with basic pragmatics. He maximized a sense of light and space in his designs by blurring interior and exterior spaces with graduated landscape “rooms.” He created places where the everyday business of living could be enjoyed.
The summer after finishing grad school I traveled to Scandinavia, visiting numerous landscapes and following in the steps of designers I’d read about and studied. It was a wonderful blur with a lot of walking through cities, drawing in gardens, and picnicking in parks. In Copenhagen we made a different kind of stop at the SAS Royal Hotel—a pinnacle of Jacobsen’s design career—where I marveled over the clean lines of the architecture and the jewels of brightly colored furniture. Sinking into an Egg Chair designed for the hotel lobby and bar, I felt protected and held in the soft organic curves, floating gently above the polished floors—an experience that felt both luxe and refreshingly simple. A love affair was born!
The chair encapsulates so much of what I admire about Jacobsen—his distillation of ideas down to their simplest form, his emphasis on functionality cloaked in elegance, and a lovely dance that weaves natural influences and organic shapes with architectural structure and order. If you have a chance, head to the SAS bar for an overpriced cocktail and enjoy this spectacular confluence of nature and nurture!
—Emma Kelly, founder and lead designer of Emma Kelly Landscape
The Curva chair, designed by Joaquim Tenreiro, is rooted in traditional values but reimagined through a modern lens. This is such a delicate balance within furniture design, and this chair beautifully captures that tension and balance. Also, there is an incredible level of craft to achieve the light and airy proportions of this chair.
—Heidi Lachapelle, founder and lead designer of Heidi Lachapelle Interiors
I am torn, as chairs are one of my favorite things to design and build. If one were guided by aesthetics alone, I would say Sam Maloof’s Lowback Chair, for the sheer beauty of its lines. However, precisely because chairs are so sculptural and anthropomorphic, people tend to forget their primary purpose: comfort. Simply put, most chairs sacrifice comfort for aesthetics. Keeping this in mind, the AP19 Chair by Hans Wegner is my choice. First and foremost, because it is legitimately a comfortable chair. More commonly known as the Papa Bear Chair, famously described as such by a journalist who claimed he got the feeling that the chair was hugging him and his arms were resting on the “paws,” this chair is a marriage of form and function at its best.
—Stefan Rurak, artist, furniture designer, and founder/lead designer of Stefan Rurak Studio