Postgraduate students currently studying furniture design may be inspired by the various architect-designed chairs in the Architecture and Planning Library, including the Hill House Chair.
The Hill House Chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh is an example of architecture meeting design. This “delicate and elegantly simple” ladderback chair, first designed in 1902, was one of many pieces of furniture for the Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland.1
With Hill House, Mackintosh produced a work in the style of the Gesamtkunstwerk movement, whereby all the various components of the building and its interior work together to create a total and comprehensive piece of design.2 The chair was designed to bring balance to the room in which it was originally located (the main bedroom), with its ebonised wood in “stark contrast” with the white painted woodwork and most other furniture.3
Licensed replicas of the original chair are still in production by the Italian manufacturers Cassina. The Hill House chair in the library is a Cassina chair – no. 6104.
Along with the Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge, the Hill House chair was purchased by architecture students in 1983 with funds left over from the Architecture student congress “Gone to Kiwi”. However, unlike other special chairs in the library, the Hill House Chair is more decorative and ornamental than functional. Not only is the seat very small, the joints are not strong enough to support an occupant for very long.4
Visit the Architecture and Planning Library and try to spot this special little chair.
Johanna Holzke, Library Assistant, Architecture and Planning Library
1 Toromanoff, A. (2016). Chairs by architects. London: Thames & Hudson. p.25.
2 ibid. p.25.
3 Billcliffe, R. (1984). Mackintosh furniture. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press. p.118.
4 Billcliffe, R. (1986). Charles Rennie Mackintosh: the complete furniture, furniture drawings & interior designs. 3rd ed. London: J. Murray. p.146.
Alison, F. (1974). Charles Rennie Mackintosh as a designer of chairs. London: Warehouse Publications.