Take a Seat: Remaking Furniture for Chairity

Every year at this time O+A designers get together to take apart a chair. 

Chairity is an event hosted by the contract furniture dealer Two Furnish, which brings the design and architecture communities together to raise money for charitable organizations. Designers choose a used chair from Chairity’s collection of cast-offs and reinvent it as a work of art, a piece of social commentary, a goofy contraption or another piece of furniture—sometimes all of these. The re-born seat is then auctioned off at a Chairity Gala.

This year, O+A chose a child’s rocking chair from an era well before kids’ furniture was cool. Still the design team thought this little rocker had character. “The leg detail, the back detail—it’s quite special,” says Sharon Sclarr, one of the designers on the team. “You can see little chips in the wood and you know there’s an existing narrative there. You kind of get the sense of a different time and place.”

It was to accentuate that narrative, maybe even memorialize it, that the team voted for Sharon’s idea to take components from the rocker, replace them with cast concrete replicas and resettle the original wood in new concrete homes—in this case three small tables. 

The core team in addition to Sharon included Lauren Harrison, (who coordinated the project), Priyam Mehta (formerly of Concreteworks, who served as in-house fabrication consultant),  Edan Maoz, Lauren Perich, Kaylen Parker and Rachelle Meneses with periodic assists from Verda Alexander, Chelsea Hedrick, Kayla Goldberg and Emily Cano. Why such a large team for such a little chair?

“Everyone was so busy on project deadlines,” Lauren Harrison explains. “And since this was all volunteer work, people had to come in and out of it as they were able.”

“It was quite a long process,” Sharon says. “We had to first pull apart the chair and then understand what was going on, because when you look at it intact, it’s been built so well we didn’t know how it was put together. Was it glued? Were there screws? Then we had to create the molds and that took quite some time. And then we had to cast the concrete and that also took some time. And it was messy! So we worked out front in the parking lot and it was uneven ground—that was quite interesting, trying to level it out, because it sets. Concrete sets. There were a couple of pieces that had to be sanded back because they were slightly…” She makes a gesture to suggest a surface on which a marble might roll.

The result: a child’s rocker that rocks two periods of furniture design; two foundational materials, concrete and wood; two kinds of furniture, tables and a chair and (we hope) Two Furnish’s showroom on auction night—Thursday, October 10th.   

Chairity has raised over $109,000 for community organizations since its inception in 2017.  Funds raised at this year’s auction will go to two non-profits dedicated to making life better for disadvantaged young people in the Bay Area. Project Color Corp gives schools an upgrade by painting rundown exteriors in bright inviting colors. But it does more than paint—it involves the children in choosing the colors and the design; it gives them a stake in their own environment. Larkin Street Youth Services is an organization that helps teenagers and young adults get past homelessness. Its assistance in housing, employment, healthcare and education helps people turn their lives around before early misfortune takes them too far down the wrong path. 

To learn more about how you can contribute please go to: