designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum
 

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

designboom was recently invited to the ‘seats of power’ exhibition at VITRA design museum. currently on show in the schaudepot building, the display showcases a history of chairs and highlights the relationship between seating and expressions of authority. from mies van der rohe’s ‘barcelona chair’ to a ‘papal throne’ constructed for pope john paul II’s 1994 visit to zagreb, the chairs will be exhibited at the campus until february 17th 2019.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

chair for the peter A. beachy house by frank lloyd wright (1905/06)

oak / fabric covering

all images © designboom

 

 

this dining chair was designed for one of frank lloyd wright’s famous ‘prairie houses’ in a suburb of chicago. the design is characterized by the high back-rest which creates a verticality to offset the horizontal planes of wright’s prairie houses. the tall chairs create a sense of nobility, and were described by art historian norris kelly smith as resembling ‘stately council chambers.’

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

safari chair by wilhelm kienzle (1928)
matted beech / leather / leather straps

 

 

wilhelm kienzle created this chair as an adaptation of a model used in the 19th century by british colonial officers. the chair was a symbol of power as it was transported to new colonies. this model by kienzle utilized the lightweight features to conceive of a new variant to the traditional chair.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

barcelona chair by ludwig mies van der rohe (1929)
flat steel, chrome-plated / leather straps / cushions with foam padding and leather covering

 

 

one of the most well-recognised designs at the ‘seats of power’ is the barcelona chair designed for the german pavilion during the 1929 world’s fair. conceived by mies van der rohe, it has become synonymous with elegant and modern interiors. at the time, the chair was designed as a symbol of precise german construction and it is still used today in contemporary interiors.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

the egg by arne jacobsen (1957/58)
injection-moulded polystyrene foam / foam padding / leather covering / aluminium

 

 

the egg was designed by jacobsen as part of the SAS royal hotel in copenhagen. the chair, made from polystyrene foam, was designed to encompass the user in a space within a space. the design was mainly incorporated in the public lobby spaces as it offered users the possibility of shelter or interaction.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

eames executive office chair by charles und ray eames (1959/60)
aluminium / plywood / plastic / leather

 

 

designed using an aluminium frame, the eames office chair was initially built for both indoor and outdoor use. today, the design is popularized by it’s use in offices and political meeting chambers, as can be seen from the images displayed at the ‘seats of power’ exhibit.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

harkonnen chair / giger chair by H.R (hans ruedi) giger (1980/81)
metal / black dyed-through polyester / foam

 

 

as one of the more fantastical exhibits at the ‘seats of power,’ this chair was designed by giger for a science-fiction movie in the 1980s. although the film was never realized, the chair was created for the fictitious ruling dynasty using reproductions of human and animal bones and organs.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

papal throne by robert somek (1994)
office chair / wood / fabric

 

 

robert somek’s papal throne for pope john paul II’s visit to zagreb is an obvious symbol of a chair design that elevates the user to express their power. the design began with the white leather office chair, which was then encased in a tall wooden backrest and armrests to signify the authority of the pope.

 designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

east river chair by hella jongerius (2013/14)
wood / steel / fabric and leather covering/ plastic

 

 

one of the more contemporary designs on display is the east river chair designed by hella jongerius in collaboration with rem koolhaas. the more casual and approachable design was commissioned for the united nations headquarters and has since been used by used by notable figures such as angela merkel and christine lagarde.

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

a general view inside the vitra schaudepot building

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

the chairs displayed in chronological order

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

the well-recognized vitra office chairs

designboom visits the 'seats of power' exhibition at VITRA design museum

contemporary chair designs

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    design news

    ×
    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    489,293 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample