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Chair - Thinking Man's Chair

Thinking Man's Chair

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1986 (designed)
    1989 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Morrison, Jasper, born 1959 (designer)
    Cappellini (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Welded and powder coated tubular steel and strip steel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Aram Designs Ltd

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This chair is one of the earliest furniture designs by Jasper Morrison (b.1959). He was inspired to design a chair comprised only of structural elements after he saw an antique example with its seat missing. He originally called this piece the Drinking Man's Chair, and the little metal disks at the end of the arms were intended to hold drinking glasses. He renamed it the Thinking Man's Chair. The more sophisticated name was inspired by the slogan 'The Thinking Man's Smoke' that appeared on the packet of pipe cleaners he bought to make a model of the chair.

The use of tubular steel recalls chairs of the 1920s and 1930s, and Morrison was an admirer of Modernist design of that period. With the early tubular steel furniture, functionalism dictated the structure. With this chair, the structure is more to do with free form. Nor did Modernist designers of the 1920s and 1930s paint their metal chairs in colours like this. Morrison's early prototypes included the dimensions of different steel elements painted onto the chair as a kind of decoration. The Italian firm of Cappellini made the production versions of the chair, like this one, but omitted the writing.

Physical description

Tubular steel and strip steel chair, powder coated in a pale green colour. The tubular front legs rise to form the side rails of the seat and the sides of the back, which are joined by a curved tubular steel back rail. The rear legs and arms are continuous serpentine curves of tubular steel, finished with circular metal disks. Steel strips run from the front rail of the seat back to the rear stretcher, and two wider horizontal strips create the back.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


1986 (designed)
1989 (manufactured)


Morrison, Jasper, born 1959 (designer)
Cappellini (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Welded and powder coated tubular steel and strip steel


Height: 700 mm, Width: 630 mm, Depth: 930 mm, Height: 340 mm seat height, :

Descriptive line

Tubular steel and strip steel chair, painted pale green

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jasper Morrison, 'Everything but the walls', Lars Muller publishers, 2002, p.7

Labels and date

For the Furniture Gallery 17/07/17:

Thinking Man's Chair
Jasper Morrison (born 1959)

Manufactured 1989 in Italy by Cappellini
Welded tubular steel and strip steel, powder coated

Given by Aram Designs Ltd
Museum no. W.15-1989

This chair comprises both tubular and strip steel. As it is made almost entirely by hand, assembling the pieces requires great precision. The perfectly smooth surfaces were achieved by high quality welding and powder coated paintwork. The designer wanted to create a chair that was ‘all structure and no closed surfaces’, having been inspired by an older chair without its seat cushion.

Designed by Jasper Morrison (British, born 1959), 1987
Made by Cappellini S.p.A, Italy, 1989
Tubular and strip steel, powder coated green

Morrison's designs often combine simple geometry with freehand curves. He pays as much attention to the spaces within and around the object as to the form itself. For those reason the critic Peter Dormer compared Morrison's designs to typography. These characteristics are also evident in this chair.

Given by Aram Designs
W.15-1989 [2006]

Production Note

Jasper Morrison made the first editions of this chair at a metal workshop in Kentish Town, London. The London-based furniture retailer Aram Designs exhibited Morrison's versions and a few years later the Italian furniture brand Cappellini took on the production. Aram retailed Cappellini's versions, such as this one.

NB published sources give the date of design and production as 1986, whereas the museum register has the date of design as 1987 and production from 1989.


Sheet steel; Tubular steel


Welded; Painted




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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