Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Looking at chairs (again)

click photo to enlarge
Architects and designers can be obsessive. The great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), during the time of his "Prairie Houses", took to creating every feature of the building. Once he had laid down the overall form and the layout of the rooms he set to designing the doors, stained glass windows, furniture, rugs, lights - everything. His intention was that the whole experience of living in his house should be one of co-ordinated and complementary design, and to that end he even designed the dresses for the lady of the house!

The influential English architect, C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941), was equally driven. His favourite "heart" motif was repeated throughout his houses in window shutters, door handles, and stencilled ornament, and his work extended into designs for furniture, wallpaper and other household items.

Today many architects specify the furniture for the houses they build from the catalogues of contemporary designers, rather than design it themselves. Often it is the comfortable modern classics by designers such as Breuer, Eames, Corbusier, Makepeace, Magistretti and Jacobsen that are chosen. Frequently, however, it is the eye-catching designs that are favoured: chairs, tables, lights etc, that look the part but don't necessarily offer the utility that is required for daily living. When I came across the chairs in today's photograph I was smitten by the beautiful, spare design, and the shadows thrown by the display lighting. However, though they would look the essence of modernity in the right setting - part sculpture, part chair - I did wonder how long I might be able to sit in one. They are the work of the Danish furniture designer, Mathias Bengtsson, are made of spun carbon fibre, and each weighs only 800g. In my photograph I tried to make a semi-abstract composition that showed the form of the chair without revealing a whole example (the bottom part of one is at the top and the top part of another at the bottom), whilst also showing the power of their pattern and the attendant shadows. The colour was added in post processing.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 39mm (78mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/25
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On