I take issue with the characterization of Scott Burton’s chairs found in James Cross Giblin’s Be Seated: A Book About Chairs. (The description may be accurate but the interpretation is unjust.)
Burton’s stone furniture has serious limitations. Since the pieces each weigh between eight hundred and three thousand pounds, they cannot be moved easily and usually stay wherever they are first set down. Also, their hard surfaces and sharp edges discourage sitters from remaining on them for more than a few minutes.
The illustration accompanying this commentary shows the solitary artist bundled up against a cool day with the granite tables and stools he designed for a plaza in New York City. And so is offered up as visual proof that the furniture is not people-friendly.
The picture can also be interpreted to accentuate the function of outside furniture that must resist vandalism and accommodate shifting crowds. As well it looks beautiful even when the plaza is underpopulated.
Timing is everything. A sunny day and a mid-day crowd might present a different picture. Take for example the artist’s own words.
My work is often only activated at lunchtime. People don’t inhabit a public space except maybe at lunch time. I feel like, you know, I’m a lunch artist. [Source: Audio Program excerpt MoMA 2008]
A chair is not only a place to sit; it is also a place to visit.
And so for day 684