Two Exhibitions at Art Center College of Design Celebrate Rich History of Chairs
The chair is perhaps the most widely owned useful product ever created. For more than 200 years, chairs have provided much needed relief from standing—to rest and reduce gravitational pressure on limbs, bones, and muscles—yet today sitting is controversial. Standing and adjustable desks are flooding the market. Two new summer exhibitions will look into the chair’s recent history at Art Center College of Design’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, 1700 Lida Street in Pasadena. Both exhibitions run from June 23 through August 16. For more information, visit www.williamsongallery.net/chairs
Chairs designed by the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Gehry will be presented with chairs created by professionals who studied Environmental Design at Art Center College of Design.
The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design examines/explores a small slice of the chair’s long and illustrious history presenting/through more than 40 solutions to the universal need to sit/take a load off.
Classroom to Market: 20 Years of Innovation in Seating celebrates and affirms the role of the individual designer in its presentation of chairs created by Art Center students and graduates.
The Art of Seating provides a glimpse into the design studio, through patent drawings, documented upholstery, artist renderings and multimedia presentations. Selections offer a stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, the Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Gehry and others waiting to be discovered. The exhibition also features contemporary and historic designs by some of the biggest manufacturers such as Knoll, Herman Miller and Steelcase.
Perhaps the most illustrious piece of history in this collection is that of the House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair from 1857. Designed by Thomas U. Walter, Architect of the Capitol from 1851 to 1865, the House of Representatives chairs were created to be used in the halls of Congress and were showcased in portraits of political leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. A later design by David Wolcott Kendall, deemed by his peers as “The Dean of American Furniture Design,” was presented to William McKinley during his term in the White House and has become known as the “McKinley” armchair.
The Art of Seating is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida, in collaboration with the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.
Classroom to Market focuses on a more recent history, affirming the role of the individual designer in the creation of modern seating. The exhibition marks the first time that designs by notable Art Center alumni will be presented alongside work done while at school. Organized by David Mocarski, chair of Art Center’s Environmental Design department, with faculty members Cory Grosser, Nolen Niu and John Ford, the exhibition explores how students integrate current and historical contexts into the forging of a personal design voice. While working on assignments, some sponsored by leading manufacturers such as Bernhardt Design, Herman Miller and ATU International Ecuador, these young designers have helped establish Art Center’s reputation as a world-leading institution for the design and development of innovative modern furniture.
Classroom to Market is organized by the Art Center Environmental Design Department, with support and assistance from Bernhardt Design: Anne and Alex Bernhardt, Jerry Helling, Todd Campbell; ATU International: Esteban Anker, Francisco Pareja; and Art Center’s Educational Partnerships: Elizabeth Collins, Regina Dowling-Jones.
Williamson Gallery exhibitions are funded in part through the generosity of the Williamson Gallery Patrons, and a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance.
The Williamson Gallery is located at Art Center’s Hillside campus, 1700 Lida Street in Pasadena; hours are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours on Fridays, until 9 p.m. The gallery is closed Mondays and holidays. For more gallery information, call (626) 396-2446.
About the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery The Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at Art Center College of Design opened in 1992, and has since represented a unique voice in Pasadena and beyond, engaging art and ideas of both local and international significance. Pasadena is unequalled worldwide for its convergence of the arts and sciences, and the Williamson Gallery has embraced the exploration of that core identity as one of its primary programmatic goals. Offering students and the public an opportunity to form authentic and critical insights based upon first-hand experiences with the arts, the Williamson Gallery seeks out projects that will resonate deeply with the tenor of our times, provoke intellectual dissonance, and conjure unexpected pathways of thinking.
About Art Center College of Design Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, Art Center College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. Art Center offers 11 undergraduate and six graduate degrees in a wide variety of visual and applied arts as well as industrial design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and social impact initiatives, Art Center is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, Art Center alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.