Chair Salon

chair salon group photo

This year's work was exhibited in LADC

Chair Salon, a five-week industrial design summer workshop, began in 2014 as a collaboration between Dr. Randall Bartlett and Dr. Gearóid Ó Conchubhair, a retired industrial design educator from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, one of Ireland’s premier design institutions. Ó Conchubhair is a leading chair designer, having spent ten years creating the Earō, a cutting-edge chair developed for orchestral performance. Bartlett says that seeing the Earō’s success helped fuel the idea for a chair workshop.

The Chair Salon workshop embraces the philosophy that making is thinking, so students begin their projects soon after the workshop begins. At the workshop, professors encourage students to design chairs they themselves would like. Though all chairs students produce at the workshop are intended for mass production, the workshop is mindful of the materials students use and bends all wood and metal in SIGD’s shop facilities.

This semester, projects from the annual workshop were featured for display in LADC. Past chairs have been exhibited in Wallace Hall but were featured in Dudley Hall’s library this year for the first time.

“Chairs are excellent projects for design students,” Bartlett says, pointing to a history of chair design at Auburn dating back to the 1960s and 70s. In fact, as one of his final projects before graduating from Auburn’s program in 1980, Bartlett designed a chair.

But even though designing a chair can be a great litmus test for designers, it is far from a simple task. “There’s more to a chair than what meets the eye,” Bartlett says. In addition to aesthetics, “you have to think about the life of a chair. There are so many moving parts and elements to consider.”

Professor Bartlett’s book of photos and sketches from this year’s workshop can be found in LADC.

Related people:
Randall Bartlett