Celebrating the Chair
Maine furniture exhibit brings together 20 chairs by 20 makers to recognize the art of sitting comfortably
Taken together, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont comprise one of the most furniture-rich regions of the country. Everywhere you turn you find people building the sort of furniture the English call bespoke-pieces made one at a time and tailored like a fine suit to fit a specific customer.
When Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez and I were asked to curate a show at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Messler Gallery in Rockport, Maine, we decided to focus on chairs made in these three states. The 20 chairs we selected for the show, which closed on March 1, give an inkling of the range and quality of furniture being produced in this corner of the country.
As in other parts of New England, the chairmakers in these states often draw directly on local furniture of the past, and the show has several chairs of this sort. We also found excellent reproductions of chairs originally made in Scotland and England. Other pieces in the show are from makers who are clearly conversant with historical styles but prefer to modify or modernize them. And still other chairs are designed in a purely contemporary idiom.
Across all the stylistic categories, however, we found chairs that were superbly well crafted and successfully designed to provide not only an appealing place to rest the eyes, but the body as well.
Click on the Audio Slideshow link above for a close up look at 12 of the chairs from the North by Northeast exhibit.
Jonathan Binzen is a writer, woodworker, and frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking.
Photo: jimdugan.comView PDF