Sally wears a Karen Walker shirt; photographed by Emma Bass; make-up by claudia Rodrigues; hair by Michael Kent
I work with a couple of chair fanatics. NZ House & Garden
's art director, Rich Brunton, and sub-editor, Jan Chilwell, see chairs not as seats, but as sculptures to be lusted after.
"Have you seen this Alvar Aalto moulded plywood chair?
I love the curves," Rich might say. "Oh yes," agrees Jan, taking in the chair image on his screen. "It looks like [New Zealand designer] Garth Chester's Curvesse chair. Have you seen that?"
This sort of conversation happens several times a week. Rich and Jan swap books with names like 50 Chairs That Changed the World. They have the same eye chart featuring increasingly tiny designer chair silhouettes pinned up by their desks. Their what-I-did-in-the-weekend stories often include references to browsing furniture showrooms and chairs with prices in five figures.
For Rich the obsession started when he was 14 and his parents brought home a white leather Barcelona chair: "I had never seen one before. I just loved it." He still owns that chair, and several other designer chairs, but currently has a crush on a Fornasetti chair from Design 55.
Rich and Jan�s chair chit-chat is, of course, part of something much bigger: there is a growing chair obsession among design aficionados around the world. Over the last hundred years, 20th century designer chairs such as the Eames Lounge Chair and Verner Panton's S Chair - as well as other iconic styles from the more distant past, such as the once humble Windsor chair - have been showcased in design magazines, exhibited in galleries and, sometimes, copied in knock-off cheaper models. As British design professor Anne Massey notes in her book Chair, chairs have become "established as revered objects of design". The more we see of beautiful chairs, it seems, the more we want them.
With that in mind, it might be best to approach this issue
of NZ House & Garden
with caution. It bristles with highly addictive chairs, most notably a parade of beauties in the Christchurch home on page 28: two Eames chairs, a wooden Windsor, a Bertoia and a cluster of Tolix chairs. These are chairs with the best and most sophisticated European/US design credentials - but there's no arguing that they look fabulously at home in this tiny wood and corrugated iron Antipodean home surrounded by Kiwi art. I'd say it shows how clever homeowners Carolyn Hughes and Sandie O'Brien have been at interpreting global domestic design trends for local conditions. Jan and Rich would just say a beautiful chair is always right.
Enjoy this issue.