100 wondrous chairs

A new exhibition on display at the German Consulate General Toronto celebrates the not-so-humble chair. Dimensions of Design – 100 Classical Seats is a miniature chair exhibition of the Vitra Design Museum, Germany, hosted by the Toronto’s Goethe Institute along with the German Consulate.

Of all consumer items in the human living space, the seat has a special, almost iconic place. It is the one object which, with respect to its design, is the most closely related to the human body; and it is not by chance that its form is so often linked to the status of its owners.

Up to the present day, creating a seat still represents a particular challenge to artists, architects and designers, reaching far beyond the otherwise determining function as element of consumer goods. No other piece of furniture can show such a comparable diversity of form as the chair.

Since 1992, the Vitra Design Museum has been producing chair miniatures as reproductions of the most famous seats. Some of these chairs, such as Le Corbusier’s chaise longue or the red­blue chair by Gerrit Rietveld, are as well­ known nowadays as the most famous works of art.

The 100 examples presented in this exhibition as scaled­-down miniature sculptures, true to the original, just like objects of art on pedestals under glass covers at eye­ level, provide an impressive image of the scope of variation and structural imagination of their creators.

Although Germany has sent out important impulses for design development during our century (above all due to the Bauhaus), and although a museum located in Germany has produced this exhibition (which has been travelling around the world), German designers are in a minority. The exhibition shows how, in the field of design and modern goods production, all national boundaries and categories per se have dissolved. For many years now it has been completely normal for technical production, deisgn, material and consumers to stem from completely different countries.

The most important function of this exhibition remains the conveying and sharpening of criteria by the sensory experience of the selected exhibits for a task every one of us is set: the co-determining of the aesthetic quality and form of our environment.

Dimensions of Design – 100 Classical Seats is on display at the German Consulate General Toronto, 2, Bloor Street East, 25th Floor, until March 9. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.