For the design obsessed, few objects generate as much attention and conversation as the chair, often shorthand for a design ethos.
“Chairs are important witnesses of their time,” says Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman emeritus of renowned Swiss furniture company Vitra. “They are portraits of their users and reflections of the production methods from which they emerge.”
Fehlbaum is one of the talking heads in Chair Times, a documentary from director Heinz Bütler that charts the history and significance of seating design. Currently available to stream for free, the film spotlights 125 objects culled from Vitra Design Museum’s vast collection, starting from circa-1807 seating to the first Thonet and tubular steel chairs to the 3D-printed designs of today. The documentary also features designers like Hella Jongerius, Antonio Citterio, and Ronan Bouroullec.
Like Helvetica, a popular documentary on the famous typeface, Chair Times is an opportunity to meditate on design and ubiquity—and a fun way to spend an hour and a half.