Vitra/Magazine/A Day in the Life of a Chair
A Day in the Life of a Chair
An Essay by Max Küng
‘What does a day in the life of a chair look like? Well, that depends on the day. There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ day for me, no nine-to-five—I have to roll with the punches. Sometimes my owner’s there, sometimes he’s not. That’s working life these days. When he’s around, he’s normally at his desk and working on his computer. I know when he’s thinking hard because he likes to lean back and chew on his pen. He likes to wheel me back and forth a little. Sometimes I’ll hear him swearing under his breath. Sometimes he works late, right into the night, long hours without a break. I always feel like trying to throw him off like a rodeo bull at that point… Sometimes he’ll stand by the window and have a smoke.
Sometimes he’ll go visit someone else in the office and tell them about important things. He sits down. He gets up. And sits back down again. Sometimes I’ll hear him laugh; but mostly he just sits there in silence, and all I can hear is the clacking of his keyboard. Sometimes, when he’s feeling particularly lazy, he’ll wheel me all the way to the coffee machine to drink his espresso. Sometimes he’ll pace up and down, reading some important papers or other. Sometimes he’ll sit back and just stare out of the window, gazing into the middle distance. Then all of a sudden, he’ll clap his hands and shout ‘YES!’. I think that means he’s had a great idea—or he’s just heard the football score. When he’s on the phone, he has a habit of leaning all the way back till my backrest won’t go any further—which is pretty far, to be fair. I’m quite flexible. Sometimes he crosses his legs. Sometimes he adjusts my height. Makes me bob up and down. I think he finds it fun. He likes that little ‘puff’ sound, I think— maybe it reminds him of something in his childhood. Some days he likes to have my seat a tiny bit higher, sometimes a hair lower. No two days are the same for me, I’m telling you. Sometimes his kids come to the office. Then I get to be a race car—or a spaceship, or a forklift truck. I can be anything they want me to be.
More about me? I’m the latest generation in a long dynasty of iconic chairs. I don’t think that’s overstating it. I’m not one to boast, but for a chair, I’m quite highly evolved. I mean, back in the Stone Age, they all sat on rocks to hit rocks with other rocks. And then one day, along came the wheelie chair. What a moment for mankind! And we’ve come even further since then. Seriously, lumbar support, synchro mechanisms, full adjustability. Today, that’s all standard—it was just waiting to be invented. Maybe sometimes it’s tempting to get a little big-headed…
Speaking of flexibility, it’s pretty essential for us. After all, things are changing all the time, as we well know. Things don’t stay the same for long. All people need to work these days is a laptop and internet access—and you can get that in practically any café on any street. Do you remember the way it used to be? Does anyone still remember the days of dial-up internet? When the only way to access the World Wide Web was through a cable running from your computer to the telephone socket? The old days, when your desktop was anchored to your phone jack. Does anyone still remember the unholy noise it used to make? Like a cat being strangled by a telephone wire? It sounds like the middle ages to kids these days.
I know I’m not the only chair in my owner’s life—he works wherever he feels like it: perched at the kitchen table at home, surrounded by dirty breakfast plates; at the dining room table, astride a dining chair, obscured by piles of laundry waiting to be ironed; on public transport; in the sun outside a local café; on trains, on planes, or slouching on the sofa of an evening, his laptop balanced on his knees, with one eye on Game of Thrones. I’m not jealous. Well, maybe a little—especially when I think that he probably prefers working in bed to working at his office desk… But I’ve had my dalliances with other tables and other sitters, too. We’re in an open relationship, you might say. He does his job, I do mine. It doesn’t matter where he sits while he does it—as long as he’s comfortable, and he’s not doing it for too long. At the end of the day, I am what I am: a chair. At your service—as best I can.’
Yours, Throne (that’s my name. It wasn’t my idea…that’s just what he calls me).”