Take a seat and think for a moment about what makes a great chair. And, while you’re at it, have a look at some of the most famous, funky, and fabulous chairs ever designed. That’s exactly what Denver’s Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is encouraging us to do with its new virtual exhibition Pull Up a Chair.
Thanks to the museum’s stellar collection—which includes more than 600 chairs—it’s a show that deserves a standing ovation, even when sitting is much more fun. “Now that many people are spending so much time confined to their own homes, we can invite a comparison with the great chair designs at the museum and hopefully transport visitors into whimsy and inspiration through a common object we all have,” says deputy curator Christopher Herron.
How did the curatorial team narrow down the museum’s vast collection to a mere 45 seats? “Many of these chairs have been on display since opening in our new space in 2018, and were chosen by curator Hugh Grant because they are among the best examples in our collection,” Herron says. “Some are icons or by designers that need very little introduction; some we think are just great examples of a particular time or style.”
There’s a chair here for everyone—from skeletal to overstuffed, wiggly to zigzag, swiveling to rocking—each meticulously designed for lounging, working, dining, or dozing. Of course, the perfect marriage of form and function is elusive, and appearances can be deceiving. “My favorite is the Pierre Paulin Ribbon Chair (pictured at top),” Herron says. “I sat in one of these years ago and thought it was the most comfortable chair I’d ever been in. You wouldn’t necessarily guess that by looking at it.”