Work From Home is a new vertical dedicated to life and culture in the strange and unprecedented situation of self-quarantine that many of us are dealing with right now. From what to watch to how to get a fit off and how to not think about anything, this is our guide to the great indoors. For updates on the spread of Covid-19 and how to keep yourself safe and informed, consult WHO and the CDC.
The thing about sitting around the house — to paraphrase American literary critic Harold Bloom — is that when you sit around the house, you sit around the house. Self-quarantine, beyond being absolutely the right thing to do, has made us infinitely more familiar with the insides of our homes and apartments (if we’re lucky enough to be at home).
In such situations, for a certain class of people, thoughts turn from boredom to improvement: “I’m sick of this chair, I need a better one, I need my life to improve.” Doing so might, or might not. Furniture isn’t going to get us out of this mess; possessions aren’t the answer. But the middling, mass-produced furniture many of us own is being tested, as Americans everywhere are glued to their chairs. Online furniture resellers and retailers offer curbside pickup, and many are built on a network of small businesses. If you dig around, you can often get them from the seller direct. Below are some chairs that might work as upgrades.
Pesce Foot Chair
This chair, from legendary Italian sculptor and designer Gaetano Pesce, is in the shape of a foot. Pesce’s profile has gone up as of late, thanks to a rediscovery of his and his contemporaries’ work by a new generation of interior designers. He’s produced a number of incredible chairs, most notably the Up Chair (more of a sculpture than a chair) and 2009’s Mountain, which is Organic.Lab on steroids. The latter is harder to find, but this Foot Chair is just as good — about as surreal, and of a higher class, recalling more of a Fellini movie than an Instagram account. If a deer walked into your apartment and stood next to the Foot Chair, it wouldn’t look out of place. We’re in harsh times right now — if you’re able to spend money on products north of beans, they should at least be fun.
Rietveld Reproduction Chair
The original Rietveld chair was a model of De Stijl design; brutal and bright, creating a new language for what furniture could be. Ever watch a movie from the 1950s? When you do — The Long Gray Line is a good one — look at the furniture. Most pieces in there are tufted, ornate, and without either balls or beauty. That’s kind of what old furniture usually is. And yet, this chair was made over 100 years ago and looks like it’s from the future. Originals go for untold amounts, but reproductions can be close enough, and are respectably priced from the right sellers. It’s also nice to have a really uncomfortable chair for people to sit on in our current medical state, since no one should be coming over to hang out anyways.
Don Chadwick Slipper Chair for Herman Miller
Herman Miller has been around for so long and has made so many slightly differing styles of furniture, that it’s a near inevitability to lump the company’s output in with mid-modern furniture, the spare and structured clean-line stuff produced in America in the 1950s and ’60s. But it’s not an entirely correct approximation: after that era wrapped up, Miller kept at it, and in the 1970s produced a cavalcade of great, round, and out-there furniture with both younger designers and more established ones. The slipper chair is one of Miller’s better ’70s models and was designed by Don Chadwick, who later co-created the Aeron office chair to insane success (seven million sold). This Slipper Chair (available from Home Union, one of Brooklyn’s better design stores) is fresher than an Aeron, but is not recommended for 12 hours of consecutive gaming.
Bape Modernica Shell Chair
Mid-modern furniture, when it began, was a service: to provide affordable, thoughtful staple pieces to young people and families just starting out. That just happened to coincide with the glory days of American manufacturing, and the post-GI Bill boom, and so the thoughtful ideas and protocols thought up by a handful of designers in the 1950s ended up casting an infinitely long shadow on the rest of American design. The same thing was the case in Japan about 20 years ago with streetwear and clothing — a perfect conflux of a handful of talented designers, a wealth of untapped influences, and gaudy and immediate execution. The difference is these were T-shirts and sweatshirts, not chairs and credenzas. The overlap in the Venn Diagram is here, with this Bape Modernica chair, a gaudy retread of a plain staple — which, frankly, I’m not sure works. But it’s only the legs that hit a sour note here, and you can switch those out. Collaborations used to be a novel idea; it’s nice to see Bape, the Gorbachev of mashups, showing how to take a chance on one.
Cabela’s Rocking Chair
Continuing the outdoors inside theme, this is a perfect and affordable choice for someone who already has a handful of nice furniture options at home and wants to make their room either more relatable or high-low. Most items sold on outdoor sites like Cabela’s are practical, well-made, and utilitarian; only what you need — but I am not sure that is the case here. I love the idea of someone needing a rocking chair for a camping excursion. But who does? Really, it’s the sign of a mature market space: enough people have been going camping for long enough that they have bought all the staples there are to buy, and so companies need to make more, stranger things. Either that, or all the true campers are getting old. In any event, a great chair at a great price.
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