When is a chair not, essentially, a chair? Well I suppose having no seat could qualify. Clark Bardsley, the creator of ‘Arm’ puts it this way: “‘Arm’ chair is not another chair; it is an anti-chair. It celebrates nonsense and gleefully breaks the chair design rule book. It is not comfortable; in fact, it cannot be sat on.”
Its name says it all – though a play on everyone’s familiar notion of a chair, this is no ordinary armchair. Basically, it has arms – (unlike armchairs, not all chairs have arms) – but it has no seat. Hence ‘Arm’.
So, you can comfortably lean on its arms – though you must also find something to sit on:
‘Arm’ is designed to fit over any everyday seat – from a plastic patio chair to an office chair or even a bucket – to create a completely new chair, cloaked in the signified history and value of the bent oak form. Its silhouette is a cartoon of the archetypal continuous sack back Windsor.” – Clark Bardsley
Here is Bardsley, reclining in his own creation. You can do this too if you are very louche – and athletic. Is he floating in air? Or does he have very strong arms?
So, what was Bardsley’s inspiration for the creation of his anti-chair?
“The project began as an investigation in to the constraints of wood bending, a process that is closely associated with the history of chair design. We structured our research around creating a beautifully finished object that pays heed to a classic bentwood chair, without posing it as a commercial product. Why shouldn’t research have a sense of humour?”
You may think better of actually putting the ‘Arm’ chair outside with the trash – garbage collectors may just not see the irony of a chair without a seat, especially one with a rubbish bag attached to it.
But it’s actually a great outdoor arm chair. Its light, versatile – pop it on top of your favorite stool, log or bucket – and you can rest your arms.
The simple design of ‘Arm’ belies the intricacy of its construction. Bardsley worked together with a specialist in the art of wood bending, based in Auckland, New Zealand. Here’s the technical bit:
To create this “outline or symbol of a chair, produced in fine American Oak,” the wood was fashioned into strips which were steamed together, then glue laminated into curves. These curved forms were machined into rounds and finished with a sander, then joined together using rail bolts. The legs were then shaped and glued on.
So, why was Bardsley compelled to investigate the technique of wood-bending by the creation of a seat-free chair?
“Chair designs proliferate the portfolios of designers the world over.” – Clark Bardsley
The ethos of the ‘Arm’ chair is very contemporary – beautifully crafted, simple in shape and with a mid-20th century modern vibe. It’s also witty. Who would think to design, then create a chair that is expressly useful only in conjunction with another, smaller, seat of choice? Well no-one – you may once have thought.