I’m interested in how furniture (and tool) designs change. Typically the trajectory is toward entropy or dissolution. But sometimes it goes the other way (see Lie-Nielsen and Veritas handplanes.)
This week I have been deep into reading the Kaare Klint monograph by Gorm Harkaer. It is a staggering work in both scale and scope. Harkaer covers everything from Klint’s paintings to his sculpture, logo designs and (of course) furniture. It’s the second-most expensive book I own, but I don’t regret a penny.
Today I was examining some of the photos of Klint’s Safari chair, which was born from the Roorkee chair of the campaign-furniture era. The above photo is one of the earliest chairs from 1933.
The legs are teak. And note the folded over and stitched leather arms. Oh and I couldn’t resist noting that the screws are clocked.
Later chairs were mahogany or “smoked” ash, according to Harkaer. “Smoking” involves coloring the ash with ammonia steam.
The chair below is a 1953 version in smoked ash with a canvas seat. Note we now have the familiar non-stitched arms. I much prefer the stitched arms. They sag a lot less over time.
Other interesting details from the monograph:
The seat coverings were available in leather, undyed linen drill or canvas in brown blue or olive.
After Klint’s death, his son designed a footstool to go with the chair.
More than 150,000 official Safari chairs have been made since 1933.
This morning I clipped my nose hairs (it sure beats braiding them) as I prepared for 16 days of teaching (and taking) a class in England at David Savage’s Rowden workshop. Leaving on long trips is always difficult, and not just because of the excessive follicle primping.
Despite the great privilege of instructing, it is hard to leave behind my family, put my personal work on hold and be disconnected from my library.
So on Nov. 13, I am going to become a hermit.
If you look to the right of this blog entry you will see that I have removed the calendar. And that’s because there isn’t one anymore. I have cancelled everything for 2016 and beyond. After I return home from the French Oak Roubo Project, I’ll be home indefinitely.
Full-hermit mode will help me finish my manifesto (aka “Furniture of Necessity”), reduce the backlog of books clogging the Lost Art Press pipeline and work on restoring our new headquarters building. Plus, I will take a crack at building some of the dozen new furniture designs that are stuffed into my sketchbook.
The chair above is one of those designs. And I almost didn’t want to show it because it raises a lot of questions I can’t answer because I’m getting on a plane. No saddling? Will those legs work? Undercarriage? No relief on the rear curve of the seat? Solid ash? And more? Yeah, I have good answers for all those, but it’s gonna take a book to understand where the heck I am going.
Thanks to everyone who has taken a class with me during the last 10 years. It really has been a blast, I’ve made some lifelong friends and I’ve learned as much as I have taught.
Next time you see me I should have nose-hair dreadlocks. Just got to get some advice from Tom Fidgen first.