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"Chippendale" Chair

Designed by Robert Venturi, American, 1925 - 2018. Made by Knoll, East Greenville, Pennsylvania, 1938 - present.

Made in United States, North and Central America

Designed 1978-1984; made 1985

Bent laminated wood; plastic laminate

37 1/2 x 23 1/8 x 18 1/2 inches (95.3 x 58.7 x 47 cm) Seat height: 15 3/4 inches (40 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Collab: The Group for Modern and Contemporary Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1985

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In his furniture for Knoll, Robert Venturi challenged the International Style dictum that form follows function, as he had in his provocative writings and postmodern architecture. All nine side chairs designed by this eminent Philadelphia-born architect conform to modern standards of elegance, comfort, and function, but each is shaped to suggest a specific historical furniture style. In this chair the silhouette of the back is an adaptation of the designs of the eighteenth-century English furniture designer Thomas Chippendale. Popular in the colonies at the time of the American Revolution, this style carries all sorts of historical and patriotic associations. Another layer of complexity is added by the surface of plastic laminate in Venturi's pastel floral "Grandmother" pattern, a knowingly sentimental visual generalizaiton about motherly good nature. Only the forceful rhythm of overlaid black parallel bars denies the blandness of the image and reminds us that, like the bent plywood construction of the chair itself, it is distinctly contemporary. Darrel Sewell, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 300.