Close Companions

This is such a comfortable chair to sit in, despite always having been consigned to the role of desk chair. Perhaps it is merely a preconceived idea that desk chairs should be so very utilitarian and ordinary, and have a fixed seat. There must be no risk of slacking on the job, while sitting a tad too comfortably in front of a daunting pile of papers.

The padded seat on this chair is agreeably well-used, and the gently curved backrest, which extends into armrests, has a warm and welcoming wrap-round form.

For generations the chair has been the close companion to a desk. Their long partnership commenced towards the end of the 1800s. That was when the two of them were first introduced to one another, placed at an angle in the corner of a delightfully airy room, a location they were able to retain even after a daughter subsequently took over ownership of the apartment. What else would you expect? The two of them – the chair and the desk – had really come into their own in their original home. The years passed and the next generation moved the furniture to another city, many miles away. Now, in 2020, the chair and the desk have recently been enjoying a further chapter in their long lives, this time in the setting of an old people’s home. There they have brightened the days for an elderly lady who has been living with these two long-standing friends for practically all her life. The pair have since moved home once again and passed to yet another generation of the family, but they still remain inseparable.

The front legs of the chair are turned in what appears to be a distinctly English style. For the sake of convenience they have been fitted with tiny castors, a feature commonly seen on chairs that date from the second half of the nineteenth century. The rear legs are gently curved, lending a slightly lighter appearance to what is otherwise a rather solid-looking chair. The backrest extends to form armrests that terminate in bold scrolls, and there are spiralled volutes at the base of the arm supports, where these join the rail. The volute was a common form of ornamentation in classical antiquity and has since been widely used both as a constructional feature and for purely decorative purposes.

Mahogany is a hard and heavy wood, but so very beautiful. People certainly shared that opinion in the nineteenth century, when mahogany emerged as a more modern alternative that gave furniture a highly desirable air of exoticism and exclusivity.

Gun Bjerkander Handberg

Notes from the Editor:

We have been so thrilled and delighted to see over 2020 that this blog is being read all over the globe, and we hope has offered some comfort (and a little light relief) during these strange times!

Do please leave a comment saying where you are from and what chairs you have in your home and share your favourite chair tales.
You can find books by the author Gun Bjerkander Handberg online featuring more historic chair tales. Warm wishes from the Please Be Seated publishing team.

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