Saturday, November 23, 2013

Style stalking: Factory chairs ...

The industrial design renaissance has revealed some new obsessions for me. Somewhere near the top of that list are factory chairs, or machinist chairs as they were originally known.

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Before the 1920s, workers often labored in factories on backless benches. Productivity declined and and the pain of poor posture afflicted countless workers. Then, in 1922 a company called Tan-Sad Chair Co., a British office furniture manufacturer in London, developed a swiveling chair with a curved backrest that could be adjusted to suit the height of each worker.

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It was the first chair manufacturer to produce ergonomically correct posture chairs for machinists and factory workers, and lo and behold, productivity increased.


Images (above) via Ormston Saint.

Now, these UK manufactured machinist work chairs are the darlings of vintage collectors and can easily cost $800 - $1200 US. But, there are more beauties from this side of the pond, too. 


Images above via My Lovely Things (left) and Blue Egg Brown Nest (right).

You have to give credit to the Toledo, Ohio based Uhl brothers, Joe and Clem, for taking a design of simplicity and strength and tweaking it to create an enduring industrial star. The brothers began as bicycle makers in 1897 in Toledo, but saw bicycle demand falter with the dawning of the automobile. So, the Uhl’s began producing furnishings for commercial and industrial use around 1910.

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In the late 1920s, the Uhl brothers began crafting the American industrial 'Uhl Art Steel' adjustable height work stool from their Toledo Metal Furniture Co. The Ohio built workbench factory stool is equally appealing in its simplicity of form and function, but will cost a hefty sum if purchased restored and reconditioned.

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I love that the uber cool La Bandita Townhouse Restaurant (above) had no qualms about using some less-than-perfect recycled Tan Sad chairs for customer seating. With original seats missing, a little ingenuity was all that was needed to add canvas fabric for comfy sling seats in this Tuscany retreat.

If you have the money to spend, I good place to start your quest for vintage chairs like these is Chicago's Urban Remains online antique shop. But, I'll have to scour the fleas and second hand shops for these trendy characters. After all, I do own a factory and a girl needs a fashionable place to sit!

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