History of Architecture and Urban Planning

  • Jjp_oud_1954

Developments within the chair collection

The Chair Collection of the Faculty of Architecture now contains around 300 chairs of various description. Contemporary or antique, beautifully of cleverly designed, unique or mass produced, famous or anonymous, the Collection has it all.

After two and a half years of absence from the Faculty the Chair Collection has been on display again since October 2010. A donation by the Sofa Foundation enabled us to house the Collection in the Faculty’s new building. The majority of our chairs are on display permanently, in an open depot next to the Faculty’s library.

Because the Chair Collection has been an educational collection since the start we strive for easy accessibility for the public, of both students and interested laymen. To make this possible the Collection is kept in a room in the Faculty’s building that is publicly accessible. The only exceptions are the very frail unique pieces in our collection. So please feel welcome to come and see our Collection. Touch screens provide the visitor with information on the chairs displayed. In addition guided tours are possible on appointment.

For lovers of design furniture our Faculty’s building has more to offer, since it was furnished throughout with items from Vitra’s range of design classics. Chairs by for instance Eames, Bertoia and Prouvé that are also present in the Chair Collection can be found at various locations in our building. And these chairs you can actually try!

The Chair Collection of the Faculty of Architecture was founded in 1957, when enthusiastic students started collecting various designs. They found that the chair, with its manageable size, formed a great object for the development of design skills. Aspects such as comfort, beauty and production technique all play their role in designing a chair. And they were not alone in their opinion, throughout the 20th century quite a few architects tried their hand at chair design. It goes without saying that chair designs by well-known architects were always sought after for this collection. Therefore the donation of six chairs by Gerrit Rietveld formed a memorable moment.

But besides the designer’s name there were other areas of interest for the collectors. For instance, various types of chairs were collected, such as desk, folding and children’s chairs. In many cases the material or techniques applied in fashioning the chair were a criterion for selection. Many innovative designs are created when designers try to discover ways to apply the newest techniques available; an example is the outburst of creativity generated by the developments in plastics in the 1960-ies.

The chairs were used to illustrate lectures and as models during drawing classes. When the Faculty moved to a new building on the Berlageweg in the 1970-ies, the Collection moved with it. After the move the Chairs were not always used very intensively, and they spent a long time pining away in a damp basement.

This all changed when the University of Delft took the maintenance of its heritage in hand more firmly, and in 2003 the chairs were moved to a new depot on the first floor, realized with support by the Mondriaan Foundation. This move proved very fortuitous when the Faculty’s building was destroyed by fire in 2008. The wing that contained the Chair Collection depot was spared by flames and water, and the Collection was saved. The Rijksmuseum generously offered to house the Collection while the Faculty settled in a new location. A period of uncertainty ended in 2010, when the Collection reappeared in the Faculty’s building, in a new, open depot that was realized with support by the Sofa Foundation. This new location makes the Collection more accessible than ever before, as it places the chairs right in the heart of our Faculty.

Chair collection Website