Tuesday, May 18, 2010


By coincidence, this email message came into my mailbox during ICFF, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. This is the week when furniture is celebrated, by and large, in glittering showrooms around town. Chairs are always recognized as special darlings of the entire scene, as symbolic objects representing the entire furniture industry –or even the field of design in general.

I have just returned from the fairgrounds, where hundreds of manufacturers competed, trying to convince you to buy their new chairs, proving their necessity, relevance and benefits. At first, I thought the message attributed to DLCC was a spoof. The contrast was just too great:

“The chairs in [our] room are old, red ones left behind by the company that used this office space ten years ago.  They creak.  They're uncomfortable.  One of them is missing its left armrest. But in all my years as Executive Director, no one in this office has ever asked me to buy new chairs.  And we won't.” 

The message was, of course, real, and the description of the tattered furniture meant to emphasize tireless and selfless work the campaigners were doing for their cause. Yet unwittingly it underlined another reality of American life. While clothes, shoes, bags, cars, hi-tech gadgets are considered “essential” necessities, furniture and furnishings of our domestic or work environment are still relegated to status of superfluous objects.
In times of economic uncertainty, they are among the first things to be cut from any budget.

It does not seem likely that ICFF will be able to change this unfortunate belief.

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