It's always good to have extra chairs at home for those special occasions, but which ones? Here are a few keys.
The lack of space and the tendency to move the social life to the house due to the crisis has caused us all to have a few extra chairs in some corner. However, we don't have to compromise on quality and design, even for the additional seating. But which is better, a folding chair or a stackable one? We talked to two designers who are experts in the field: Marcelo Alegre and Jordi Bassols, to tell us the advantages and disadvantages of both options. How often have you had to go to a Christmas dinner with your chair under your arm? Too many diners for the capacity of a dining room is a common situation in any home; even more so if we consider the small size of urban apartments and the growing habit, boosted by the crisis, of moving social life from the street to the house.
Nobody is spared when it comes to needing an extra chair. For this reason, we now worry about acquiring folding or stackable chairs that fit in a corner, which can get us out of more than one trouble. In the case of stackable chairs, we must consider that they can be used as fixed dining chairs and can be kept away from the table at any given time, depending on space requirements. But what happens when you set the table with the additional chairs included, and they turn out to be different from the fixed dining chairs? Don't worry. Mixing styles, shapes, and colors around the table is a growing trend. In addition, folding chairs have the advantage that they can be stored with very little space. Just place a few hangers on the wall in the laundry room, in a passageway, or the kitchen, and they are always ready to use.
They can even become another decorative element, strategically placed on the wall next to a painting or a photograph. If you also play with the different heights they hang, you will create a very dynamic effect. In folding seats, we find true icons that never go out of fashion, such as the butterfly chair, by Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hard, which was inspired by a folding military seat used by the English army in the nineteenth century. And if we continue digging into history, we will realize that folding stools were already used for seating the Pharaoh in his appearances in Egyptian times. However, the Romans perfected the folding and transportable seat, a very distant ancestor of the famous director's chair. It is a classic that inevitably reminds us of the world of cinema, but it is a very versatile and durable piece. Dare to play with colors and textures, changing its fabric upholstery for leather, velvet, or wool.
Marcelo Alegre, the designer at Alegre Design and creator of the Plek chair for Actiu, says that "folding chairs have always been a challenge for furniture design. Historically these chairs were considered a secondary product, intended for one-time use." However, when he designed the Plek, he wanted to create a chair that could be integrated into domestic and professional spaces "without reducing its use to an eventual or specific temporary use." The chair has three positions depending on its function: folded, it facilitates transport and storage; open, it provides the comfort, ergonomics, and quality of a traditional chair; and in its intermediate folded position, it is used for major installations such as an auditorium.
According to Marcelo Alegre, a folding chair must meet four conditions:
· That its use can be both punctual and continuous.
· Facilitating mobility with a simple folding system
· Visually appealing
Both the Plek, winner of the Red Dot Award in 2008, and the Donald by Poltrona Frau (pictured) meet these requirements. "For us, the Donald has always been a benchmark. In a market where folding chairs were considered auxiliary elements, its design and finish positioned it at the forefront of home furnishings."
Stacking chairs, meanwhile, present another series of advantages to taking into account. Jordi Bassols, of Ramos&Bassols, a studio that won a Red Dot Award in 2015 for Actiu's Wing stacking chair, explains that "there are many virtues of a stackable chair, as it facilitates cleaning and storage, as well as reducing shipping costs, which ultimately affect the consumer's pocket." According to Jordi Bassols, the keys to a good stacking chair can be summarized in three:
· Stackability should be a virtue that does not condition the chair's design.
· It must integrate solutions that allow stacking up to at least four chairs.
· The most suitable material is injection molded plastic because it is lighter than metal and wood. In addition, it allows formal tricks that sacrifice the chair's aesthetics under its stackability.
"A fascinating example for us is the Dr. No chair, which Philip Starck designed for Kartell in 1998 (pictured above). The chair incorporates a stackable plastic injection-molded basket on an aluminum frame. Thus, the internal stackability of the basket allows hiding some registers in the plastic, through which the structures are stacked. In this way, the external appearance of the chair remains intact.
Jordi Bassols says that "despite the passage of time, this piece has become a timeless design icon. It is comfortable, light and stackable, and perfectly meets the expectations and req