Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chair #83

—Designer unknown

The elegant Klismos chair dates back to Ancient Greece, and has grace, symmetry and perfect proportions. And we all know how the Greeks liked their perfect proportions, right? Leave it to them, with their zeal for the human body, to design a particular chair that married beauty and comfort. It echoed the rhythm, precision, proportion, and order of their Greek architecture. 

Back then the chair peaked in popularity around 400 B.C. This we know because the chair shows up in painted form on ancient Greek pots and sculpture. One of the most famous sculptural examples is a relief of the Stele of Hegeso located in Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens, Greece. (Google it—It’s beautiful!) Hegeso is shown lounging comfortably the chair that perfectly conforms to her delicate back. Her servant is holding a box, no doubt filled with amazing jewelry—the kind we only see as knockoffs in the Met. Museum Store catalog. She’s probably trying to decide which necklace goes best with her toga. 

These chairs might have faded into history if historians weren’t excavating ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid-18th century. The discovery of Greek and Roman ruins sparked a Neoclassical craze throughout Europe. All things Greek and Roman were the all the rage.

The poularity of the chair was revived again in the 1940s with the work of designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbing in the French Directoire, Empire, and English Regency styles. The most distinctive characteristics of the Klismos chair include a broad concave back, and four, curved saber shaped legs. 

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