May 2005, Toda Studio, New York, NY
un_seated is an exhibition of concept chairs and their development processes that I curated in 2005. The exhibit featured a unique collection of chair concepts within various stages of their design and production process. All the chairs in the exhibit are functionally and conceptually derived and are supported by documentation of the processes which led to the forms displayed.
The content of this exhibition is analogous to the influence that the prefix “un_” confers to what is standing behind it. A general characterization of un-ness encompasses concepts and ideas that are defined by being something other than the category with which they are assumed to belong.
un_seated featured the work of New York designers Mark Naden of TODA, Chris Pommer, Lisa Rapoport and Mary Tremain of Toronto-based Plant Architect Inc., and Annie Coggan and Caleb Crawford of Coggan + Crawford Inc.
Coggan + Crawford’s piece, yama/niyama, was originally developed for the Iyengar Institute but was not installed due to budget restrictions (and, I suspect, loss of nerve).
Yama and niyama are concepts of the yoga sutras, which are a kind of equivalent to the ten commandments, but they are “thou shalt nots” and “thou shalts,” as opposed to the completely proscriptive “thou shalt nots.” This pairing translates as exertion and rest, a “becoming” and a “being.” This was a response to a functional requirement: a vestibule that needed a wall for security and a bench so that people could remove and put on their shoes. It takes its form from a movement from one yoga pose to another – urdva hastasana (standing, arms reaching upwards) to utkatasana (a pose much like sitting in an imaginary chair). This bench expresses this constant state of being and becoming.
Edward Muybridge is an obvious precedent, as is the craft of boat building.
yama/niyama was ultimately built by Caleb Crawford and a small group of students from Pratt without whose help this project would not have materialized. The project started as a concept but developed into a unique material experiment: the wood is bent in three axes as well as twisting up to 90 degrees.
Photos by Caleb Crawford