Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Era of Big

According to people who spend lots of time involved in research, the first chairs were probably invented by the Egyptians—and they were reserved for royalty. Plebeians used stools. We still accord the chair some honorary status—the first chair in orchestras, the Chair of the English Department. And we have chairpersons, chairman of the board...

Chairs didn't seem to be designed for comfort in those early years. In fact when I go to the museum and see chairs from the 18th century they seem a bit off-putting. I like a seat with give and a soft back —not spongy, but not like a board.

Of course chairs needed to be cognizant of dress trends so that their occupants could , if not comfortably, at least fit into the chair.

Now we have ergonomic chairs and chairs that suggest you consult your doctor first before purchasing—that is if you've had back surgery. Chairs that fit you if you're under or over a specified height. Recently I went into a store looking for a chair for a short person—me. Every chair the salesperson suggested cut me either where my knee bends or left my legs dangling.

"Don't you have a chair that has a shorter seat depth."


This is the era of big—big burgers, super sized fries, jumbo drinks, movie popcorn containers two hands high—so why not big chairs.

"I suggest," she said, "that you have a chair made to order."

I wonder if there are any Do It Yourself books on making chairs? In the meantime I'll sit on my old chair and relish the time before things got so big.


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