Photo by Paul Vincent Studio

Couple's Chair
walnut, silk

“T his project was brought to me as a commission, and, to be honest, I was not too excited. I felt it was more of a novelty object than an honest piece of furniture. Yet, when I started the full-size shop drawings, the geometry of the object became intriguing. I decided to offset the pure circles of the seats with a top serpentine curve that formed more oval segments based on ergonomic concerns. I liked the strange, reflective composition—and the tilted axis along which one would need to sit in order to be comfortable.

"As I began to work in three dimensions, the relationship of the legs' curves to the top curve became clear; as compositional exercise, it was fun, but it remained a novelty in my mind as an object. The mock-up was taken to the clients for review. They were an older couple with a very traditional home, kind of Victorian, lots of drapes and plump pillows—tasteful but not my normal stage. In fact the whole situation made me wonder, 'Did you really want me, or do you have me confused with another designer?'

"Somehow, this oddly functioning, now out-of-place object in the room seemed to fit. It was the rebellious child, yet still in the family of the parental sofas, grandpa grand piano from Vienna in the corner watching over the progeny. The moment that totally crystallized things for me came when the clients sat in the mock-up, very close to each other, forced to look at each other, but with a bar between them. I laughed; somehow this was an unexpected and odd presentation of two people. The gentleman looked at me and smiled: 'This is why it's called a couple's chair.' It gave them joy.

"Now it's time for the finished delivery and I hope that the same sense of joy remains."—T.H.