The design of these Art Deco club chairs with matching ottoman began with an image of a 1920’s art deco chair the client found, unfortunately I don’t know who the maker might have been but it’s probably not a Ruhlmann design. Neither of us really liked the large areas of upholstery on the original 1920’s chair and the client very much wanted wooden outer panels so we could feature some interesting wood grain.
Along that line I found some Imbuya Burl veneer at Certainly Wood that the client loved. We originally set out to use some nice dark Claro Walnut as the frame wood but when I cut the boards open they had too much figure and weren’t really the right color for this design. Luckily I had two old Wenge boards from years ago sitting in the shop waiting for just the right project, they were beautiful boards as you can tell from the images with nearly perfect straight dark rift grain.
We went through a number of versions of the chair design before settling on one that used the Wenge to both frame the Imbuya and also highlight the shape of the chair. In refining the design we also changed how the upholstery looked and went through several mockups of the upholstery until we settled on the shape and feel of the cushions. They are made with a number of layers of different types of padding materials to hold the shape of the cushions while also providing a very comfortable sitting experience.
The ottoman is entirely original and was designed in tandem with the chairs. The reverse skyscraper feet and Imbuya Burl panels framed in Wenge all help to tie the two designs together. The side cushions on the ottoman are hinged and lift up to allow access to two small interior storage spaces that are veneered in some lovely Birds Eye Maple veneer. No pictures of that unfortunately.
The drawer interior came from a discussion with the client on another project where he expressed interest in some Louis Cube parquetry I had done. I decided to throw in a little special treat for him and also show him what the Louis Cubes would look like in alternate materials so I surprised him with the drawer interior on delivery day. I think he was happy although he did mention that now he doesn’t want to put anything in the drawer because it would cover the parquetry.
Overall this was a very enjoyable project, it did take quite a while to complete and the client was very patient during the long process. Part of the length was of course due to us both wanting to see a full size mockup of the chair, which we modified several times. Along with wanting to have mockup upholstery done before cutting the Italian leather for the chairs. Our upholsterer worked closely with us to fine tune the look and feel of the leather panels and the overall comfort of the chair and it was well worth the time and effort.