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A Peek at The Chair Project


Sylvia Bolton and Laura Ward 

When you take a boring object like a chair and hand it over to ten artists and ten interior designers to do as they will, the results are anything but ordinary. That’s exactly what Seattle Design Center’s marketing manager Craig Cross proposed to artists at the Pratt Fine Arts Center last year after thinking about how a furniture icon could be transformed into an imaginative work of art.

Developing The Chair Project for Cross meant seeing how well artists and designers formed teams to get their work done. Using ten donated chairs from a Chicago furniture maker, each group had less than five months to spruce up the wooden bare bones.

“The project and its necessary collaboration encouraged artists and designers to push beyond the boundaries a little,” Cross says excitedly over the phone. “Anyone can get stuck in the familiar, and challenge is a good thing.”

Next Thursday, the chairs will be on display during the Northwest Design Awards Gala at the Design Center. Artists will be near their works to answer any questions, or explain how they have sewn, painted, chopped or attached fabric onto their pieces. After the event, they will be placed behind the downtown Nordstrom windows and ultimately auctioned off (with proceeds benefiting the Pratt) in August.


A long scroll is placed behind Piper O'Neill and JPC Architects' creation

“What’s fun about it is that each chair tells a different story, fully contained within the piece,” Cross says, referring to Piper O’Neill and JPC Architects’ chair that has a tree adorned scroll placed behind it. With the chair in front, Cross explains that it represents the mid-point between heaven and earth. “And the chairs are the only thing that each one has in common.


Photos courtesy of Sara Coe