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Object Timeline

1982

  • Work on this object began.

1983

  • We acquired this object.

  • Work on this object ended.

2001

2013

2015

2019

  • You found it!

Unfolding Chair, 1982–83

This is a Chair. It was designed by Peter Danko and made by Peter Danko. It is dated 1982–83 and we acquired it in 1983. Its medium is bent and laminated plywood. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Peter Danko, who has called himself “an industrial designer craftsman,” began his career as a freelance woodcarver in the early 1970s, but he soon shifted to crafting innovative furniture, particularly chairs. He designed many of his workshop’s machines alongside his father, a patternmaker and woodworker, including a high-pressure mold, to create the first successful one-piece molded plywood chair, in 1976. He begins by creating many drawings; he takes the most refined solutions and creates quarter-scale drawings, which lead to a full-scale drawing and then a prototype, either at quarter or full scale. In addition to function, structure, and aesthetics, Danko looks to ergonomics and ecological concerns. Of the many questions Danko said he asks himself when completing a prototype is, “Have I found the simplest, most perfect solution to my problem?” By the early 1980s, he had re-invented the standard folding chair using two pieces of plywood and custom-designed nylon hinges that could be molded into the plywood. The Unfolding Chair, although sturdy, ergonomic, and aesthetically beautiful, remained in production for less than half a decade, unable to compete with the significantly cheaper and widely used metal folding chairs.

This object was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Biggs.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 85 x 50.3 x 51.5cm (33 7/16 x 19 13/16 x 20 1/4in.)

Cite this object as

Unfolding Chair, 1982–83; Designed by Peter Danko (American, b. 1949); USA; bent and laminated plywood; H x W x D: 85 x 50.3 x 51.5cm (33 7/16 x 19 13/16 x 20 1/4in.); 1983-59-1

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18800761/ |title=Unfolding Chair, 1982–83 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=18 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>