The latest instalment of our new series of AR Reading Lists: seven carefully chosen pieces from our archive, free for registered users
Architects have a tendency to lend their hands and minds to the design of furniture. From imagining that the role of the architect includes a responsibility to total design down to the shape of the corner of a counter, to the pursuit of perfect joints in custom fitted cabinets – furnishings demands a level of care and craft that is seductive.
Some architects are fated to become better known for their signature chair than their architecture. As ‘bijou embodiments of design genius for sitting in or strewing around the home as epigrammatic objets d’art to signify wealth and taste’ highly designed furniture becomes a signifier for style, reflecting developing technologies and capturing certain visions for living. This week’s reading list gathers together essays that unpick familiar furnishings, writing questioning what exactly architect’s contribution to furniture means, studies of interiors that require attention and an understanding of history and a look at two designers who shifted the landscape of furniture design significantly.
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- Desk job: a short study of the surfaces on which we toil, Elise Limon, AR June 2020
‘With the computer comes the alleviation of the desk from its physical appurtenances. The fixed horizontal dimensions of its surface, and the objects it materialised to hold, are splintered into pixels and become endless. The desk can now promise even more’
- Outrage: Architects’ expensive trophy chairs are nothing new, Catherine Slessor, AR August 2018
‘Bring on the bonfire of the architectural vanities’
- Book of the month: Between Chairs at Ulm and NID, Ashoke Chatterjee, AR August 2018
‘In a world and nation consumed with anxiety and division, Between Chairs offers a space for hope, and for the revival of memory’
- Interview with Charlotte Perriand, Charlotte Ellis and Martin Meade, AR November 1984
‘Le Corbusier had no time for what he called ‘le blah blah blah’; he detested it. So when I arrived, he set me to work straight away on his theme of casiers (storage systems), metal chairs and tables’
- The Soane Museum Refurbishment by Caruso St John, Jeremy Melvin, AR December 2012
‘The really big thing was that there would be a tightness between the architecture and the furniture, because that was how Soane and that period furnished things, with an incredibly close fit’
- Peek inside the wardrobe: a new history, Tom Wilkinson, AR July 2018
‘Join me in this room within a room. A strange invitation I admit: we usually leave our clothes here. It is a space within our most intimate spaces – sanctum sanctorum – where we divest ourselves of garments, reeking perhaps of our bodies, to be consumed perhaps by moths’
- Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000), Susan Henderson, AR June 2015
‘It was through Adolf Loos that she first met Ernst May, who was particularly intrigued by her odd concrete kitchen with its round-sculpted and wooden-hatched counter. She became part of his ‘New Frankfurt’ design team - the only woman - in 1925’
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