High Sticking Chair, 1992
This is a chair. It was designed by Frank O. Gehry and manufactured by Knoll Group. It is dated 1992 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is laminated, bent and glued white maple. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
Inspired by the woven wooden apple crates he had played on as a child, Frank Gehry created a series of chairs for the furniture manufacturer Knoll, made from interwoven, sustainably produced maple strips, characterized by their curvilinear ribbon-like designs with names taken from hockey terms. The High Sticking chair is one of these. While the museum has an example of another in the series, the Cross Check armchair, the High Sticking chair recalls high-back furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Gehry's chair furthers the history of experimentation and innovation in laminated and bentwood furniture, evident in the Cooper Hewitts' collection, including 19th-century examples by Thonet and John Henry Belter, and earlier 20th-century examples, such as seating by Alvar Aalto and Marcel Breuer. The High Sticking chair also calls to mind the simplicity of the Danish modern style as seen in Jens Risom’s webbed chair for Knoll or Bruno Matthson’s webbed chair for Karl Matthson. A similar cleanness of line is demonstrated in the mid-century slat benches of George Nelson or Ray and Charles Eames. In speaking about his furniture, Gehry has said, “My furniture doesn’t come out of a vacuum. It is part of that continuous flow of experimentation with materials and process that has characterized the 150-year-old tradition of modernism” (Frank Gehry, 1991).
As Gehry's fame as an architect rose, so did the number of commissions, including for furniture, such as this collection by KnollStudio. Gehry detailed the process in his 1992 Design Quarterly essay, entitled "Up Everest in a Volkswagen." The designs--several chairs, a table and an ottoman--evolved out of an invitation a decade earlier from Rolf Fehlbaum, the director of the German furniture company Vitra, to design a chair. Gehry wrote that designing a new chair was like being asked "to find the meaning of life while standing on one foot. It's like a Talmudic question."
Fehlbaum wanted a simple but innovative chair in wood--a reaction to the high-tech and ball joints of the '70s--that could be used as a basic side chair or in cafe settings. Gehry didn't want to just "hang another coat on four legs and a seat." He reflected for a while on wicker furniture and bushel baskets and did some experimenting but abandoned the Vitra project. When Knoll approached him in 1989, the only way he could see the project working was if the firm would set up a workshop next to his architecture studio in Los Angeles, similar to that of the husband-wife architect/design team of Charles and Ray Eames, which he recalls visiting in his youth. Knoll took him up on it.
Named for ice hockey terms (the High Sticking chair, the Cross Check chair, the Hat Trick chair, the Power Play chair), the pieces in the collection are made from wafer-thin strips of laminated maple, bent, woven and curled into fluid, featherweight yet sturdy forms. The forms are composed of the inter-woven wooden strips formed into a seat with the remaining length of each strip tilted upward to form a seat back or bent downward to create the sides and legs of the chair base. The linearity of Gehry's High Sticking chair is inspired by the simple forms of hocky sticks, while also recalling the graceful linearity of high-backed historical chair forms.
This object was
David L. Schutte.
It is credited
Gift of David Schutte.
Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 110.5 × 51.1 × 61 cm (43 1/2 in. × 20 1/8 in. × 24 in.)
Cite this object as
High Sticking Chair, 1992; Designed by Frank O. Gehry (American, b. Canada, 1929); laminated, bent and glued white maple; H x W x D: 110.5 × 51.1 × 61 cm (43 1/2 in. × 20 1/8 in. × 24 in.); Gift of David Schutte; 2017-67-1