Out of all the pieces of furniture, office chairs are probably the least sexy. Functional, often plastic creatures, the only redeeming thing about these praying mantis-type objects, is that they can be used as alternatives to go-carts on particularly dull days.
But new book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, by Jonathan Olivares, aims to fight the corner of this overlooked piece of furniture, by showing us some gorgeous examples selected by designers, curators and historians.
Olivares says, ‘Far from being just an inanimate object, the office chair’s rich history reflects our own; from work habits, to consumer care, to an era’s style and fashion.’
He adds, ‘It could have been the taxonomy of toasters or automotive engines, but to me office chairs seemed a far more intriguing subject; with their close relationship to the human body, and their extraordinary mechanical complexity.’
Much like a butterfly taxonomy, the book shows the evolution of different ‘species’ of chairs and investigates the way each chair’s headrest, armrest and lumbar are organised to best support the body. Sadly the book doesn’t go into their racing ergonmics, but we’re guessing the space-age sleekness of Jasper Morrison’s Lotus chair is going to make it a pretty good contender.
A Taxonomy of Office Chairs by Jonathan Olivares is published by Phaidon Press in May, priced at £24.95.