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Chair (USA)

This is a chair. It is dated ca. 1948 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is slumped plate glass, metal, textile. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Six examples of this chair were set around a glass table in the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company's (PPG) model dining room featured at the 1939 New York World's Fair in The Glass Center's Glass in the Home exhibition. The chair is made of a slumped plate glass frame. The original seats, made of fiberglass, were a solid color, possibly white, cream, or another light shade. At least one other example of the chair (with stripe-patterned upholstery) was shown at in The Glass Center as part of a model bedroom in front of a dressing table.
The Great Depression forced many Americans to reimagine how they defined “luxury,” as exotic woods and expensive fabrics became unaffordable. Manufacturers like PPG responded by encouraging Americans to gradually accept new materials and technology into their homes. This new furniture eschewed ornamentation in favor of purely functional forms, as seen in this PPG chair. New forms and proportions also encouraged casual comfort in the home over formality and fussiness. PPG showed that it was possible to create simple, classical forms with more traditional materials (though not necessarily traditional to furniture design), bridging modernity to the past.
Due to the fragility of glass, the form proved unsuitable for production. Regardless, this chair remains significant as a piece of World's Fair material culture, as a demonstration of the hope and optimism in glass as a promising alternative material, and as a representation of the work of PPG, one of the most significant glass manufacturers in American history.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Miracle of Glass.

It is credited Museum purchase through gift of George R. Kravis II and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

  • Drawing, Design for Sportshack
  • brush and gouache, black ink, airbrush over stencil, graphite on illustration....
  • Gift of Donald Deskey.
  • 1988-101-1515

Our curators have highlighted 11 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Chair (USA)
  • bronze-plated steel, nylon upholstery.
  • Gift of Knoll Associates, Inc..
  • 1971-16-1

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 71.8 x 54 x 56.5 cm (28 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Chair (USA); slumped plate glass, metal, textile; H x W x D: 71.8 x 54 x 56.5 cm (28 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.); Museum purchase through gift of George R. Kravis II and from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2013-1-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

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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= |title=Chair (USA) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>