Noah

Armchair
1988 (made)
Noah thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 1980s the British architect and designer Nigel Coates was one of the first foreign architects to be accepted in Japan when he was invited to design a range of restaurants, clubs and bars. This chair was created for a theatrical, Etruscan-inspired restaurant on Hokkaido Island. Although it appears a one-off, crafted piece, it was intended to be mass-produced and was also intended for commercial sale in Britain. The wooden parts were made using traditional Windsor chair-making methods, and sand-blasted for a rough-hewn, weathered effect. The thin, welded steel legs contrast with the organic, tactile quality of the wood.

This chair may seem unusual in that it abandons some conventions of modern furniture design, including geometric form, exclusively industrial materials and machine-quality finishing. However, it remains a modern and unique design that epitomises the designer's approach.

In a newspaper interview with The Times in April 2008, Coates said 'What's more intimate than furniture? A chair touches you. Each time you sit on it, it should give you pleasure.'


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Steel frame with a sandblasted ash seat bolted on
Brief Description
Armchair of sandblasted ash, with legs and uprights in steel. British, 1988, designed by Nigel Coates
Physical Description
The frame of the chair is composed of three steel legs, of thin, circular section, the back one reaching to the full height of the back, the front two finishing just above seat level with bold heads. The legs are joined by two arching stretchers of steel of thinner diameter than the legs, running from the front legs to the back and welded to the legs. These two stretchers are joined mid-way by a cross-tie, parallel with the front of the chair, also welded in place. A horseshoe-shaped section of sand-blasted ash forms the back and arms of the chair in a single piece. It rests on the top of the back leg/upright and the front legs pass through the front ends of the horseshoe, creating sloping arms. The seat, also of sand-blasted ash, is rounded at the back in plan and s saddle-shaped at the front,, in the manner of a Windsor chair. It has a short extension on each front edge at the side, which runs over the end of the back/arm section, the front legs running up through this also and ending in a nut finial.
Dimensions
  • Height: 80.7cm
  • Width: 103.5cm
  • Depth: 56.5cm
  • Seat height: 45.8cm
Gallery Label
  • "NOAH" ARMCHAIR Designed by Nigel Coates (British, b.1949) Manufactured by SCP Ltd, London Ash and metal 1988 This unconventional armchair was intended by its designer to serve as everyday seating for a fashionable restaurant in Japan and to evoke in the mind of the user the rusticity and honesty of ancient farm implements. It was collected as an example of an innovative design by a young but important British designer. Despite its original use on remote Hokkaido Island where Coates designed a large, theatrical, Etruscan restaurant building, the chair was intended to be mass-produced and sold in England. The seat is an exaggerated Windsor seat and the chair's wooden parts are made by a traditional Windsor chair maker. The chair's design, like the building it was made for, could be described as organic, that is, it makes on think of living organisms and the forces of nature. One of the reasons it may appear so unusual is that it abandons some of the cherished conventions of modern furniture including regular geometric form, industrial materials and smooth finish. The rough-hewn surface quality of the wood is the result of sand-blasting. Purchased at a favourable price of £294 from the manufacturer 1990 acquisition(1990)
  • ARMCHAIR: NOAH Designed by Nigel Coates (British, born 1949) Manufactured by SCP Ltd., London, Great Britain, 1988 Steel frame with a sandblasted ash seat, bolted on W.15-1990 This chair was designed by a leading British architect for a fashionable restaurant in Japan. The wooden parts were formed by a maker of traditional Windsor chairs in High Wycombe. The sandblasted 'distressing' is intended to evoke the rustic 'honesty' of well-worn farming tools like the harvester's scythe, also of ash and steel The chair's title stresses its archetypal qualities.(1992)
Summary
In the 1980s the British architect and designer Nigel Coates was one of the first foreign architects to be accepted in Japan when he was invited to design a range of restaurants, clubs and bars. This chair was created for a theatrical, Etruscan-inspired restaurant on Hokkaido Island. Although it appears a one-off, crafted piece, it was intended to be mass-produced and was also intended for commercial sale in Britain. The wooden parts were made using traditional Windsor chair-making methods, and sand-blasted for a rough-hewn, weathered effect. The thin, welded steel legs contrast with the organic, tactile quality of the wood.



This chair may seem unusual in that it abandons some conventions of modern furniture design, including geometric form, exclusively industrial materials and machine-quality finishing. However, it remains a modern and unique design that epitomises the designer's approach.



In a newspaper interview with The Times in April 2008, Coates said 'What's more intimate than furniture? A chair touches you. Each time you sit on it, it should give you pleasure.'
Collection
Accession Number
W.15-1990

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record createdFebruary 12, 2008
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