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This Is a Chair

Fifteen kooky chairs for design-minded folks.

Serban Ionescu’s “Slipova” sculptural chair. Photo: Courtesy of Cruz Valdez
Serban Ionescu’s “Slipova” sculptural chair. Photo: Courtesy of Cruz Valdez

This powder-coated steel seat by the Brooklyn-based artist Serban Ionescu is one of around 50 chairs that will be on display at R & Company (64 White St.) beginning September 10. The exhibit, dubbed “Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong,” was curated by collector Raquel Cayre, and is the latest among a handful to focus on surrealist seats. In April, the Future Perfect displayed a selection at its new New York showroom, the design fair Object & Thing popped up in East Williamsburg with a dedicated chair section, and even the kids at RISD had their own weird-chair show this spring. As Eames and Risom fatigue have started to settle in among design-minded folks, a chair made entirely of striped pillows is a not-too-drastic way to infuse some wacky design into an otherwise not-so-daring apartment. Though many of the chairs in the show — like the Ionescu, whose back droops forward — aren’t exactly meant for reclining in and watching an episode of Succession. “I’ve always treated chairs, even functional chairs, like sculptures in my own apartment,” says Cayre. “It’s my opinion that a chair shouldn’t be reduced to just function.”

Three More Oddball Loungers From Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong

Photo: Courtesy of Cruz Valdez

Seat Belt
Jim Lambie, a Glasgow-based contemporary artist who has shown his mixed-media sculptures everywhere from the Museum of Modern Art to the New Museum to Tate Britain, handcrafted the belts that form this chair out of steel and acrylic paint.

From left: Photo: Courtesy of Cruz ValdezPhoto: Courtesy of R & Company
From left: Photo: Courtesy of Cruz ValdezPhoto: Courtesy of R & Company

This hanging chair, which visitors can sit inside with their legs hanging out, was fashioned out of gypsum by Rogan Gregory, a clothing designer turned sculptor who focuses on biomorphic and geologic forms.

Photo: Courtesy of Cruz Valdez

Artist Katherine Bernhardt’s paintings prominently feature electric shades of pink and recurring 2-D-style imagery of parrots and bananas, so this vaguely tropical resin-and-fiberglass seat/objet feels right at home in her body of work.

And 11 Other Off-Kilter Options

LikeMindedObjects, known for its squiggly floor lamps, produced this discarded-blue-jean chair for Urban Outfitters.

​While the dimensions and palette read slightly SpongeBob, this West Elm number feels blobby yet refined.

Created by ASH NYC, the pillow chair is inspired by the Italian Riviera of the 1960s and made from Schumacher textiles.

This indoor-outdoor chair, whose tall back offers shade, was designed by Tord Boontje and fabricated from steel and woven wire at workshops in Dakar, Senegal.

Katie Stout has been creating “stuffed chairs” like this one (with fabric, found materials, embroidery, and beading) for the past several years.

This Wonderful Industry plastic seat filled with holographic glitter folds into an 11-by-9-inch square when deflated.

Montana-based artist Casey Zablocki fired this thronelike seat in a wood anagama kiln, a technique he learned in Korea.

​Italian-ish in design​​, this CB2 dining chair has sustainably sourced oak atop its metal frame. A leather seat pad adds a smidge of comfort.

Part of Another Human’s “ET Collection,” this chair has glittery vinyl cushions and a fluorescent frame finish.

​This powder-coated wire seat by Bend Goods x Gaurav Nanda is a nod to Lance Wyman’s line-centric font for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City​.

Brooklyn-based Chen Chen & Kai Williams paid homage to the African slotted chair, which involves inserting one plank of hardwood into another.

“Chair Beyond Right & Wrong — Curated by Raquel Cayre” is on view at R & Company, 64 White St., from September 10 to October 19, 2019.

*This article appears in the September 2, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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15 Kooky Chairs for Design-Minded Folks