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You are not allowed to sit on the Rockable chair.
Too bad. It’s the most interesting thing in the room. Hans Sandgren Jakobsen’s chair is supposed to look like “a midwife’s auscultator or the androecium of a flower,” but it really resembles a group of wooden pins stuck into a wooden cushion. The angelsor your behind, as the case may beare supposed to land on the pins’ wooden heads.
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Of all the 17 new Danish chairs on exhibit in “Danes on the Move: Tomorrow’s Seating DesignToday” at, um, Scan Furniture in Bethesda, you are allowed to sit on only one. It’s called the Grid, and it was designed by Komplot Design of Birkeroed, Denmark. It doesn’t seem like a chair as much as it does a computerized wire-frame model of a chair. The softly molded waves of the seat, it turns out, make not a bit of difference in comfort.
But who needs comfort in a chair? Modern designers fetishize furniture to the point that it’s all about form, your body be damned. And the Danes, as their extremely congenial government wants you to know, rank among the world’s foremost modern designers. Where would we be without Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair and Swan Chair? Or Hans J. Wegner’s the Chair, on which presidential candidate John F. Kennedy planted himself on TV?
But…a show of chairs you can’t sit in? Furniture design has taken on a life of its own, so I am forced to hold a virtual-comfort competition among the chairs of “Danes on the Move” (which they should call “Danes on Their Duffs”); that is, I will judge them without actually sitting in them.
Ah, here’s a nice model: Slow Chair, by Soren Ulrik Petersen, which has steam-bent elements designed to “[appeal] to the inner spirit of seating in everyone.” It looks so wide you could get lost in it, inner spirit and all. I much prefer the Lily, by Henrik Leander; it looks so temptingwith its symmetrically cushy back and butt emerging from a conical vaselike standthat there’s a sign on it that says “Please Don’t Sit.” As if we need a reminder.
As most uninviting, I elect Stick, by Carlo Volf of Copenhagen. With 12 wood support members radiating out from the hub that is your seat, Stick makes you wonder what other sadistic tricks Volf has in mind. The kindest thing I can say is that it looks like an easel without a painting or, simply, firewood.
What if I wanted to buy Stick? The fellow at Scan’s cash register, bless him, is agnostic about the entire affair. He’s just selling furniture for a living. “The person to speak to,” he informs, “would probably be in Copenhagen.” Bradford McKee
“Danes on the Move” is on view until Sunday, May 6, at Scan Furniture, 7220 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. For more information, call (301) 656-2900.