Book Review: New Chairs
Sarah Rae Smith
Jan 29, 2009

There are books in our collection that we read once a year, once a week and once in a blue moon. Our latest find, New Chairs, acquired from the local Half Price Books has been a once a week type purchase. Not only is it the kind of book that's great for all it's pictures, but one that really gets your own creative juices going. Click through the jump for a few pages from the book and our review of our latest find.

New Chairs, Innovations in Design, Technology, and Materials by Mel Byars (Chronicle Books, 2006) has thus far been a great purchase. We have read, flipped and skimmed it's pages multiple times and it hasn't actually found a permanent home on our bookshelf since it's purchase over a month ago.

The book is full of chairs made from different mediums. Straws, plywood, plastic, dowel rods, hay, cardboard, rubber - the list goes on and on. Even though these are all chairs that have been made by big name designers it creates this certain diy mentality as you read. Good design should never feel unreachable and this book makes things feel as practical as they are wild. Not only are there pretty pictures of amazing pieces of furniture, but in-studio photos of how pieces are built, a list of materials each chair was made from, and notes from the designers who worked on them.

"The most collectible of furniture, chairs are a visual symbol of their period. New Chairs offers more than 70 examples of contemporary chair design worldwide, perfect for the postmodern, high-tech, high-concept age. Chairs by top-tier designers such as Tom Dixon, the Campana Brothers, Frank Gehry, and Massimo Vignelli sit side-by-side with those of up-and-comers who are contributing fresh and edgy designs to the field.

Chairs of new and reprocessed materials, chairs that knock-down or stack in imaginative ways, chairs impossible to imagine before computer-aided design, even chairs that push the traditional concept of utility are all present. Inflatable, sculptural, and illuminated chairs apply imaginative dimensions to this ubiquitous object.

New Chairs includes concept drawings, prototypes, manufacturing details, and insights into the creative process in the designers' own words, all accompanied by color photos of each piece -- making this the most complete survey to date of contemporary chair design." -Abbreviated jacket summary

Look for it at your local bookstore or pick up a copy from Amazon and make it part of your collection. It's a great book for kids and adults alike to understand how simple everyday things are made and the brainstorming process behind it all. Plus it makes you want to sit down with a pencil and paper and make something, anything be it from 10,000 straws or 400 shoots of bamboo.

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