Wood going in, a chair coming out… A unique, warm and noble material and an iconic object, perhaps even the oldest of all iconic objects. That said, the chair only became democratic in the mid-15th century; before that, only a small number of privileged people would have had the luxury to sit.
In this story, the two protagonists met sixty-five years ago near Valencia, in Spain, spawning the solid, family-run enterprise that is celebrating this anniversary in 2021 with publication of Sillipedia. 101 historias de sillas, a very special book in Spanish and English editions, an open-ended project begun in 2016 that will continue into the future.
By no means an act of self-congratulation, as is evident from the title not far removed from the word “encyclopaedia”, the book showcases the culture of the chair, recounted in an entertaining way through 101 stories written by twenty authors, architects, designers, and art historians from different generations and backgrounds, and beautifully illustrated by Antonio Solaz.
Essays illustrate the history of the chair, from its origins to the 20th century, and the story behind the family business. The book concludes with a special tribute to Alessandro Mendini and his “manifesto” on this object, “the Cartesian axis of Western man”.
With lengthy captions, short stories, amusing anecdotes, Q&As, surprises great and small, fabulous illustrations and meticulous drawings, it is a rather remarkable book, sharing with the reader famous chairs on which Proust or Freud sat, regal chairs and simple political symbols, chairs for everyone and chairs for every taste. Books are created not just to be talked about but to be browsed, looked at and read… ideally sitting in a comfy chair. Have you ever thought, as Mendini puts it, that “While a chair works, man rests”?