When A Chair Is More Than A Chair: A Guest Post

August 13, 2012

the guest blogger

While assembling a restored chair that had been in his family for many years, my husband was inspired to blog about it.  Take a look at a chair that has  traveled coast to coast several times and created  history along the way:

“This chair has been in my family since 1977.  It’s been in and out of my home growing up and has been in NY, CA, NJ, NH, MA and now, back in California.  It’s been so ingrained in various memories that it became almost ignored as a design object, an unfortunate consequence of the familiar.

For reasons I cannot quite place, the decision to restore the chair was sudden and urgent and it pulled together some of the great artisans in Cocoon’s network.  As a last gasp before leaving Massachusetts for California and because of the great work of John Vasquez of JV Upholstery and Seth Barrett of Village Green Renewal, the chair has come back to life…with some surprising and unintended consequences.
Debra began the renewal project by asking John to use the original, damaged leather as a pattern for a new black leather insert for the chair.  Next, we invited input from Seth regarding the wood frame and how to treat it.  Seth carved away some of the wood to have a look and believed the chair could be made out of rosewood.  Then, my mother, checked the web and found a match with other award winning Sergio Rodrigues chairs.  You can still find some of Sergio Rodrigues’ furniture and other Brazilian modernists at Espasso .  After some discussion, we decided to proceed with stripping the paint off the chair to see exactly what was under there.

Seth called first to give an update and simply said that the wood was amazing.

On the next call we discussed how to finish the piece.  He advised going with an untainted hard wax that would protect and coat the wood while letting its natural color and luster come through.

When we eventually received the restored piece in California, we were stunned by the outcome.  Not only did the wood look beautiful but the use of the original, stretched leather as a pattern for a new insert – somehow caught the look of a broken-in chair.  Not just any broken in chair – but broken in the way my family broke in the chair.  If you compare it to a newer Kilin chair you’ll know what I mean.

Coincidentally, here is where it gets really interesting for me.  The chair has made me think a lot about my father who passed away in 2000, 23 years after he bought the chair and 10 years since I had become its primary user when the chair came with me to college.  The chair is a reminder of my father, my childhood and the way we lived between 1977 and 1990. You could say it’s been rediscovered by going back to a state that is closer to the way it was.  Recently, I’ve wanted to go with it.

The chair is now in our bedroom and I look at it every morning when I wake up.  It never looks empty to me.”

Thank you, Alex.

Leave a Comment

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara August 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

What a lovely story. It looks great in your room!!!

Jennifer August 14, 2012 at 1:13 am

A lovely guest post and a lovely tribute. Can I tell you how much I love your blog? I love your blog!

Debbie young August 14, 2012 at 3:23 am

Love the story and where it leads to. Enjoy this refound family treasure.

Dima August 14, 2012 at 3:31 am

Great read Alex. Thank you for sharing the story of the chair and thank you for reminding me of Dya Dya Raul. <3 Dima

Becky August 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I loved this tribute to your father and the history of this beautiful chair! =) Hope you and your sweet family are doing well!

sade August 15, 2012 at 6:54 am

It’s BRILLIANT in every way.

rachel August 22, 2012 at 2:02 am

This captured my attention and loved reading it. I spent many hours refinishing furniture with my Dad and so miss our time together. As an antique enthusiast, I understand the pleasure you must have felt bringing this piece back to life- enjoy the memories Alex , it is a beautiful story!

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