The chair is the single most common fixture in our living spaces. Take mental inventory of your home. Is there a single room without a chair in it? You may even have several accent chairs sprinkled around hallways and bathrooms. The things we truly cannot live without—food and water—are typically limited to one room, the kitchen or pantry, while chairs spill into every crevice of our spaces. What gives?
For thousands of years, chairs were scarce and used as status symbols that denoted power and importance. Very few chairs are depicted in ancient art and even fewer have survived the test of time. Backed chair seating was originally reserved for people who held royal and influential statuses, like pharaohs, priests and kings. Early art depictions show only the most important societal figures seated in a chair. Portraits of Greek Gods place the supreme god Zeus in a chair, while other gods stand beside him. When we imagine ancient reigning royalty, we picture them seated on a throne. Common people used benches or backless stools.
For the Western world, this changed in Europe during the Renaissance of the 14th & 17th centuries. Chairs were introduced into mainstream society and purchased by all who could afford them. The Baroque time period was an artistic movement born in 17th century Europe at the end of the Renaissance, during the beginning of the boom of chairs. The term “Baroque” means irregular, and the style featured ornate design and sculptural details with dramatic curved scrolling. Baroque art pieces are theatrical in nature, and the chairs born of the Baroque period of art were larger than life. Baroque style chairs were found largely in royal courts and carried a visual message of power and grandeur. Perhaps the royals were losing their corner on the chair market and decided to distinguish themselves with eye-grabbing Baroque seating. The chair frames born of this time are stunningly detailed and made of the finest materials. Baroque-style chairs were born of a special time: a time that was fighting to keep the spirit of grand, respected furniture alive.
Today, the term “chair” still holds significance. The person who heads a committee, academic department or company is often called the “chairperson.” Someone who runs a meeting sits in “the chair” and “chairs” the meeting. To be “in the chair” means you’re the person footing a bill. The best player in an orchestra sits in the “first chair.” Though remnants of the reverence for chairs remain in our language, chairs have become commonplace pieces of furniture, even to those who aren’t in charge of running small armies. We, who, for example, work 9-5 jobs, now get to sit down in backed chairs, too. And we’ve all but forgotten the value of an artistic chair that “ooh”s and “ahh”s guests.
This week, I was introduced to the line of POLaRT chairs, and it awakened in me devotion that I never saw coming. POLaRT creates pieces of furniture, like chairs, using bright colored all-weather polymers styled in the Baroque fashion. POLaRT chairs are pieces of artwork that make bold visual statements, and communicate a bright reverence that glorifies the essence of the chair. Bright yellow and red and mint pieces would fit right in a zany Mad Hatter den while black and white pieces exude the sophistication of urban chic. There are outdoor versions of these modern Renaissance pieces that are certified to weather humidity, cold, corrosion, extreme temperatures, sunlight and more, so even yard space is suited to house this sophisticated furniture. POLaRT Design fights to keep the spirit of grand furniture alive, much like the artists of the Baroque period.
The ultra contemporary furniture of POLaRT helped me to realize how vocal furniture is when placed in your living space. It sets a specific tone and communicates a message, not only to guests, but also to you. What do your chairs say to you and yours?