Images: George Hardie, 2011 ©
CHAIRNESS - Ideas in Representation
In early project development discussions with Kermik and Santilli, Hardie explained that his interest in chairs was more concerned with the meaning of chairs - their possible use as metaphors and symbols and the drawing of chairs for communication purposes. His interest extends to how real chairs were ‘drawn’ on paper and in the various materials employed in actual manufacture: ‘My concern is with a bigger subject than chair design, Chairness perhaps (it was Kermik who pointed out that Plato used this notion for discussion; talking around a subject - Chairness, as opposed to the object The Chair’).
Following initial discussions Hardie produced an illustrated mind-map laying out his interests in ‘some sort of order’, refining and finally augmenting it with possible questions in the outer margins. This in turn was reduced to a chart using only words, as a memory jogger and keepsake of the presentation which consisted of taking a journey through the map and highlighting connections by supplying the missing images, illustrations and examples:
Could this project be named ‘Chairness’?
Inspiration (Breuer at the Bauhaus, Michael Marriott, Bugatti)
Metaphor and Narrative (The History of European Literature Told in Chairs)
Symbol (aspiration, choice, ethics, debate, friendship, leadership, order, rank, privilege, search and selection - all symbolised by chairs in a small book)
Collection and Classification (Hardie’s collection of chairs lined up to have their photo taken)
Wrong uses (a painting chair, a chair to lock a door or fight off a lion, a jam straining stool, chair as sawing horse, a light bulb changing chair)
Scale (Hardie: How many seats are there in this envelope - smaller than A4? Answer: Two and life size)
Drawing Materials (a garden seat in cast iron but from a wooden pattern scaled up from a lino cut; others wrought iron and French - drawn in wire or in bent wood)
Anthropomorphism (arms, legs, feet, backs, claws and seats; Arm in Arm)
Chairs that are only Drawings
Chairs that are also Drawings, Letters and Numbers
More questions were raised: Can a chair represent opposites? Can you sit on a symbol? Can a chair be the hero of a story? Can a chair be the hero of a room? The smallest possible chair? The lightest possible chair? The most voluminous chair? Can an actual chair tell a tale? Is it possible to make a drawing you can sit on? We understand notions of ‘unbuilt’ architecture but what constitutes an ‘unbuilt’ chair?
Hardie finished his presentation by saying that his showing some 40 years worth of looking, collecting drawing and using chairs as symbols represented a map of his past but hoped that some of the questions asked, particularly across disciplines and hopefully cultures in this Chair Project, could make a map for the future.