28 March – 23 October 2015
Chatsworth, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, will showcase specially commissioned designs by local students and graduates alongside pieces by international designers in its 2015 contemporary chair exhibition, Make Yourself Comfortable at Chatsworth (28 March – 23 October 2015).
Chatsworth has offered design students from Sheffield Hallam University, a chance to design, create and exhibit chairs in the historic house’s Great Dining Room. Specially crafted pieces by MDes students, Robert Hamilton, Hayley Lightfoot and George Heath will sit side-by-side with works by the university’s alumni, designer Daniel Schofield and design duo Richard Bell and David Powell of Psalt Design.
Whether it be the Devonshire Collection, the house’s architecture or the Devonshire family, the specially commissioned pieces by the university’s students and alumni have been inspired by the estate to tell their individual story in a unique way, shape or form.
The Victoria Dining Chair by Robert Hamilton is inspired by the quality craftsmanship throughout the house, and is constructed from solid walnut. The dark timber is highlighted with silver touches influenced by the house’s 17th Century Baroque collections. Hamilton’s design also incorporates text from diary entries for two visits to Chatsworth by Princess, later Queen, Victoria, offering an insight into her personal experience of Chatsworth.
Hayley Lightfoot, designer of the Cavendish Chair, describes her design as “reflecting the heraldry of Chatsworth’s Cavendish family, one of the most influential aristocratic families in England since the 16th Century.” The chair offers a throne-like design which aims to empower the person who sits upon it, while its backrest represents the Cavendish family motto ‘Safety through caution’.
George Heath, designer of the Hart Chair, has referenced the room in which the chair will sit, presenting Chatsworth’s historic decoration in a modern form. Heath has identified the shapes and patterns that run through the Great Dining Room to create his design, incorporating core elements taken from this significant room of the house, from floor to ceiling, in a literal manner.
For Make Yourself Comfortable at Chatsworth, Sheffield Hallam University has also worked closely with its alumni, offering them its facilities, knowledge and expertise. London-based designer, Daniel Schofield, utilises the university’s 3D printing and CNC machinery to realise the complicated form of his Veiled Chair, inspired by Chatsworth’s statue Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaelle Monti. The chair’s draped form directly references the veil over the statue’s face. A juxtaposition between old and new, Schofield’s design offers a modern technological equivalent to how the original sculpture would have been created using hand and chisel.
Meanwhile, the design of the Chatsworth Chair, created by design partners, Richard Bell and David Powell of Psalt Design, takes a different approach. It is inspired by a photograph found in the Chatsworth archives where three daughters of the 9th Duke had their photograph taken whilst they themselves took pictures. The duo were struck by this image and have incorporated apparent details and forms found in the photograph into their final design, in particular the shape of the daughters’ arms as they hold their cameras.
Chatsworth’s Exhibitions and Special Projects Curator, Hannah Obee says, “The selected seats chosen for Make Yourself Comfortable at Chatsworth enable us to share stories with our visitors and for them to engage with the house in new ways. The intention of the exhibition is to interpret Chatsworth in a new way through contemporary design.
“This special exhibition is inspired by the Duke’s growing interest in contemporary furniture and his enthusiasm to support today’s designers and makers, whilst offering a platform to the next generation.”
The chairs designed by Sheffield Hallam University’s students and alumni are sponsored by Ponsford, a family-run furniture store based in Sheffield for over 120 years. The specially commissioned works will be on display in Chatsworth’s Great Dining Room.
Make Yourself Comfortable at Chatsworth
28 March – 23 October 2015
Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP