Design: Take a seat

Ben Crawford gets to the bottom of good sit-upons

Old school chairs can be put to good use today, and you can pick them up cheaply.
Old school chairs can be put to good use today, and you can pick them up cheaply.

I sit a lot. There's no shame in that. Though I'm a very active person, it's actually scary to think how many hours every year I spend on my butt. Let's do the maths. Say six hours per day actually seated in the office, one hour in the car, a couple over dinner or in front of the telly. That's nine hours a day, 63 hours per week, 3276 hours per year. Wowsers.

The human calculators out there will have noticed I've included weekends in my tally.

That's because I reckon we probably spend as much time on our tushes during our days off as we do during the week. Think about all the road trips, brunches and romantic movie or dinner dates.

As I've been travelling around the country photographing cafes for my book Built for Caffeine, I have been paying particular attention to the variety of seating each owner or designer has chosen to furnish their space with. And it's an important decision.

Clearly, based on my calculations, our bottoms are used to a good seat, so first and foremost, they need to be comfortable to keep customers returning week after week. But they also need to look good.

Seating can really define a space and the mood of a room. For example, a series of high stools feel more casual and temporary than deep armchairs. Or switch an identical black chair with a yellow one to go from serious to fun.

Chairs can have multiple looks over time too. Just like modern beauty trends, you don't have to settle with the looks your chairs were born with. A nip here, a tuck there, a lift around the edges and you can give them a whole new lease on life for the cost of some paint and fabric.

But without further ado, here are a handful of chairs and stools that have recently caught my eye.

School chairs

Old school chairs add a sense of nostalgia to a space, though for some people I'm sure the last thing they want to remember are their school days. You can pick up the genuine used article in most secondhand stores and can have a lot of fun with them by painting quirky messages on their wooden backs. Or there are tons of new variations being manufactured, with a variety of coloured metal frames. Heck, why keep them relegated to the floor? They'd make a unique set of wall-mounted shelves. Check out or

Acme chair and stool

Designed by Jeff Kennedy and Will Slack, this family of furniture is beautiful in its simplicity and uniformity. Made from a combination of ash, ply and aluminum and inspired by the classic Bentwood and Emeco chairs, these would look seriously hot at home in both casual and formal settings. Check out

The A2 Stool

These wee beauties come in a variety of colours and add a playful element to any seating arrangement. You could also use them as bedsides or side-tables. They were originally designed by Fisher & Paykel for 'The Social Kitchen' pop-up installation and have since gone on to win design awards. They can be used inside or out as they're constructed from aluminum. Choice. Check out

Mid century dining chairs

I'm a lover of Scandinavian design, probably the overall aesthetic of blonded timbers and simple forms more than a single item, but I came across these mid-century dining chairs at Customs Brew Bar in Wellington and thought they were rather awesome. It's pretty obvious what to do with them, just whack them round your dining table for a dash of Danish cool. Check out


Y not? These stools by award-winning New Zealand designer Tim Webber are the perfect mix of sophistication and leisure. They come in a variety of eye-catching colours from red and yellow through to more understated black and white. Available in both wood and metal, high and low, they'll have your informal seating sorted in no time at all. Check out

- Herald on Sunday

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