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Eye On Design: Washington Skeleton Side Chair By David Adjaye

washington skeleton side chair photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

The Metropolitan Museum of Art does not often invite visitors to sit directly on the art, but they have made an exception for these Washington Skeleton Side Chairs (2013), designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, which can be found in the gallery where the 2020 Holiday Tree is on display.

washington skeleton side chair photo by gail worley

These delicately balanced, precisely engineered chairs emerged from the design process for the façade of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which opened in Washington DC in 2016.  David Adjaye developed an intricate lattice form that was an investigation of the geometry, materiality, light and shadow.

washington skeleton side chair detail photo by gail worley

Both functional in its shading role, and poetic in its abstract visual qualities, this screen borrowed from African design patterns but also paid homage to the history of enslaved blacksmiths and their ironwork for ornamental gates in southern cities such as New Orleans and Charleston.

washington skeleton side chair photo by gail worley

Utilizing the smaller scale of furniture as an agile testing ground for these architectural ideas, Adjaye produced what he describes as a “narrative about skin, form and structure.“ Here, he shapes the skeletal, ribbed surfaces to mimic the form of a seated person, resulting in a cantilevered, ergonomic silhouette that almost disappears when in use. Made of die-cast aluminum, then powder coated and copper plated, the chairs are manufactured by Knoll International.

washington skeleton side chair photo by gail worley

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

washington skeleton side chair photo by gail worley