At first glance, the chair might look plain and unappealing, but a closer look shows design details like turned arms and turned joins that add a refinement and elegance to the chair. These chairs were produced by hand, so it is important to remember that the chair maker had to use hand tools to do all the turning and other detail work, and that necessitated a steady hand and a good eye.
This chair illustrates that geometry is extremely important in furniture design. The overall look of the chair is extremely harmonious and pleasing, but it is designed around geometric principles, such as the splayed legs, that make it much stronger than other stick chairs. It is interesting to see that from every angle, this chair is attractive and visually pleasing, and that is because it is so well designed. It is functional, and was produced for comfort, but it is also a chair that would look well in a dining room, kitchen, or living room, so it is living up to what the designers wanted from the piece. The chair also looks like it is physically heavy, giving it the appearance of being able to hold a large adult, even though the back spindles seem delicate. The relatively thick seat and H-joint between the legs, along with the arms, are more significant and look sturdy and long lasting. Since the chair has survived for over 200 years, that points to good materials and workmanship in this chair. It really seems as if it could last another 200 years without any problems.
Choosing the Windsor chair for this assignment came from two different reasons. First, I wanted to choose an object that was pleasing to the eye and had some type of harmonious design. The Windsor, which is such a classic design, met these criteria. Next, I wanted a piece that the museum knew the manufacturer, because I wanted to learn about their construction methods and designs. This chair did have a maker's mark, but very little information is known about him and his factory. I did find a little bit of information, though, so this chair met that criteria, too. The Windsor style is important to American history, which made it an interesting choice, and how it migrated to Canada shortly after it came to American indicates how American style influenced Canada throughout history, so that made it a good choice, as well.
Studying this chair from a three-dimensional viewpoint offers much more detail and examination of the construction of the chair. The Windsor improved on the ladder-back chair because the legs and back both joined the seat independently. In addition, in many of the high back styles, the arms were one continuous arch around the chair, creating an interesting and vibrant style that is hard to miss. These chairs have attractive lines that invite someone to sit in them, and they are attractive from any angle. They illustrate how important it is to visualize a piece of furniture and plan it out carefully before you design it, taking every aspect of its use and appearance before you actually create the plan for creation.
In conclusion, Windsor chairs remained popular until the mid-19th century when they began to be viewed as "old-fashioned." When the Industrial Revolution mechanized so many industries, they began to be mass-produced in factories, and that led to a drop in quality that helped make them less popular, as well. Today, many chair makers offer beautiful styles of these chairs again, all handcrafted out of choice woods. These new Windsors are popular in homes with antiques or Early American decors, and they continue to be a popular choice for many different rooms in the house, indicating that a style can be timeless.
Cook, Jane Leigh. Coalescence of Styles: The Ethnic Heritage of St. John River Valley Regional Furniture 1768-1861. Montreal, CA: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001.
Dillon, Robert a. "History and Construction of Windsor Chairs." 2010.
Editors. "Windsor Chair." Royal Ontario Museum. 2010. 12 March 2010.