When I wrote “Campaign Furniture,” I tried to avoid some of the “camp” campaign pieces – mostly pieces of furniture that had been adapted to plastic modern versions and available for sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
But this week, I call uncle.
One of the students in my New English Workshop class at Warwickshire College had spent most of his life in the tropics and collected a good deal of portable furniture, including a set of “umbrella chairs” he had purchased in the 1970s.
One evening after the class had adjourned, he took me out to his car and showed me a couple of them. He had replaced the upholstery, but the wood and metal were original.
While I have seen these chairs in operation in plastic and nylon, they are simply amazing in wood, metal and cotton.
First off: There is not a single woodworking joint in the frame. Everything is handled by geometry, butt joints and hardware. The more you play with them – open and shut and open and… – the more you appreciate their cleverness.
Oh, and they are comfortable, too.
The student’s chairs were made from some sort of mahogany-like wood and a non-ferrous metal. Perhaps aluminum. As soon as I finished fooling with the chair, I resolved to build some. I’m going to need to fabricate some hardware. But that’s not a big deal, right?
— Christopher Schwarz