The idea to write this came the moment I sat on a chair which was returned to my household after many years by someone who had needed it, this chair used to be my favorite lounging spot when I was a young and filthy pubescent boy. Sinking back into it, I was transported to the times I had spent on it studying and playing (with myself) – sometimes masterfully executing both the tasks at the same time. Only on that chair could this be possible and so today, I have decided to write this in honor of that chair.
People spend their entire lives sitting on chairs and yet so little is said or thought about them. Most people look at chairs seeking immediate comfort while others have a humbler ‘usable/non-usable’ approach to them. It is sad that such an important object with which we interact on a regular basis is pushed away from serious discussion except in design journals and coffee table books that themselves cost more than what most chairs do. Chairs are like people. A good chair means a lot and can be felt like a lover’s arms when he/she embraces you from behind and yes, as weird as that might sound, it is true. You might not be aware of it but you too have a special one in your house or are already parked on it right now as you read this.
You get to know them by sitting on them. The longer you sit, the better you know if they suit your actions and demands or not. Some are old good friends in distant places – meeting them after years would still feel as if you had met only last weekend, some gratify your tired back and bottom in an instant (highly utilitarian) while others are neutral as if no one sat on them ever and are so easy to forget unless frequently visited. The special ones get highly personalised, shaped and accustomed to the person whom they belong to. A new chair would not tell much, fresh out of the shop it has not seen the world, but old chairs have a lot to say about the people and places they have seen.
I remember spending time alone (not playing with myself) in this isolated area of our school where discarded furniture used to gather dust. Some chairs were probably as old as the school itself, the layers of paint could never cover up the classes they had attended. A few injuries here and there, a chipped side and probably a replaced wooden backrest which was taken from another chair at some point only fortified their character. Both poor and bright students had sat on them for considerable times but the chairs showed no personal inclination towards any single individual, even the names scribbled or etched couldn’t do that. Apart from the spirit of the school they had nothing to show or say. In contrast to this are the chairs which one resorts to in thoughtful times or in reclusion, the thinking chairs. What makes these particular chairs special? Think about it and comfort would soon become an auxiliary factor. Only when we stop for a while to become aware of and appreciate these relics we sit on as we rush about our lives shall we learn how an object affects us more than we can really imagine.
Here is a great narrative on chairs as a strong visual tool that can decide the impact of a scene or even a great story in cinema. I assure you that this video will change the way you look at chairs.