March 30, 2021

19 Chairs Exhibition Features Handmade Designs for a Cause

For 19 Chairs, a charity project by Tom and Will Butterfield, the full collection of seating, walking sticks, lighting, and artwork will be auctioned May 1-31 at, to raise funds for Age UK and Resourcing Racial Justice, and exhibited May 20-23 at Protein Studios, London. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.

One material. Two brothers. Many days of COVID-19 lockdown. Combine the three and the result is 19 Chairs, an ambitious fundraising project conceived by Tom and Will Butterfield, a 27-year-old furniture designer and a 23-year-old graphic designer, respectively, living
together in London. Opting to use their shelter-in-place time creatively and usefully, the Butterfields secured a stockpile of basic square section pine and, for each of 19 days, handmade a chair in their shared home studio. They then made a list of their 19 most admired artists and designers—Tom Dixon and Sabine Marcelis among them—and, in true Gen Y fashion, messaged them on Instagram to join in their cause to raise money for Age UK and Resourcing Racial Justice. The brief: to reinterpret the chair “with an older person in mind.” Es Devlin transformed hers into a sculptural light source; Benjamin Edgar replaced his straight seat slats with drooping CNC-cut ones, painted the entire piece bright blue, and titled it Tired, but Quite Optimistic. All will be exhibited at Protein Studios in late May. The online auction launches at the beginning of the month.

Illustrator Jean Jullien volunteered to drape the pine chair the brothers made, which was sent to him during lockdown, with his acrylic on canvas. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.
Es Devlin’s sculptural light. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.
Benjamin Edgar’s chair design. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.
Isabel Helen’s chair design. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.
From left: chair designs by Ashley Williams, Morag Myerscough, and James Shaw. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.
Tom Dixon’s chair design. Photography by Alecio Ferrari.

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