Seats of Power

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Exhibitions Weil am Rhein, Germany October 19, 2018 - February 17, 2019

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The history of chairs and sitting has always been closely associated with expressions of power. The origins of the modern chair can be traced back to the thrones of antiquity and, over a long period, chairs were reserved for rulers and the upper echelons of society – which only changed with the rise of a bourgeois citizenry in modern times. With the advent of industrial furniture production in the 19th century, chairs finally became affordable for wider parts of the population, yet their connection with status and power remains evident up to the present day. Seats of Power, at the Vitra Schaudepot, explores this theme with a presentation of some 20 objects from the museum’s holdings, illustrating how approaches to political, social, and economic power continue to find expression in our seating furniture. A cultural history of modern seating emerges: from authoritarian, patriarchal principles to egalitarian, participatory values; from the backroom chambers of politics and finance to democratic parliaments and designers who aim to bring about a redistribution of power with new seating designs.

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