In this amazing book on the history of chairs, Jerzy Charytonowicz provides us with an extraordinary voyage through time with this common object, one that we use every day and sits center stage in the field of ergonomics. If you want to create an expose or lecture on chairs, this book is a must.
While the book is in Polish, a language not accessible to most readers including myself, there is an in-depth English summary included at the end. The book itself includes an immense number of museum pictures and drawings that will enable you to see how “from the very beginning, furniture for sitting has comprised constructions whose dimensions and forms were determined by the shape and size of the human body. That kind of furniture, thus, frequently became ‘prints’ of the human body (according to this principle ergonomic constructions for sitting were shaped), and remained without a user it was designated for, the furniture became a symbol always associated with a man and was referred to as ‘empty chair’ - left by someone or waiting for someone. Chairs sculptured, adorned with intarsia, painted or decorated with various materials always exhibited a level of craftsmanship specific to a certain historical period, types of available materials, tools and a level of manufacture technology as well as social needs, artistic ideas, becoming a source of information about the time they originated in. As one of the most formally varied type of furniture, always being in the direct contact with man, chairs have always intrigued artists and architects becoming an object of various creative experiments. Designing furniture for sitting gave artists an opportunity to integrate their technical and anthropological knowledge, knowledge about the surrounding world and people's needs, and it also provided a chance to apply new materials and professional experience. Therefore, as history shows, the most frequently designed furniture for sitting was of concern to architects treating it as an integral part of designed buildings and manifestation of their artistic ideas.”
I found the reading and viewing of the pictures to be an enjoyable experience, one that can be undoubtedly shared by others.
Ewolucja Form Sprzetow Do Siedzenia (Evolution of Sitting Furniture Forms From Prehistory to the Machine Age) by Jerzy Charytonowicz, Edition WROCLSW, 20017. ISBN 978-83-7493-328-5- In Polish
Published in AHFE International News, August, 2014