An oft-tossed around adage in recent years is the sensationalist-sounding snowclone: “sitting is the new smoking.” While this is perhaps an important piece of information, it really gives chairs a bad rap. Certainly not all chairs are created equal, but there are some chairs out there that that make a standing desk seem like a tragic waste of sedentary potential. Chairs have been fetishistic design objects for a long time, to varying degrees, and with some particularly stand-out examples. The iconic Wassily chair, for example, was designed by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany around 1925. The chair was originally made out of bent tubular steel and eisengarn (a strong and shiny fabric made from waxed-cotton thread), and is the chair most associated with the Bauhaus school and movement. Another 20th century chair that has been the subject of design fetishism is the Eames chair. Made out of leather and molded plywood, the Eames Lounge Chair (and associated ottoman) was designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company. Although now associated with sleek, modernist design, the chair was initially conceived with comfort in mind; Charles wanted the chair to possess “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” Other famous chairs include Donald Judd’s classic square seats, the OTHER Eames chair (plastic, round, you know the one), the Game of Thrones throne and the Wishbone Chair courtesy of Hans J. Wegner. The SVA Library Pictures Collection knows the importance of a good chair. The collection houses two very, very full folders (filed under Furniture - Chairs) containing hundreds of images of - you guessed it - chairs. The chair images available in these folders feature a range from squat, red and shiny to intricately carved to suburban La-Z-Boys to ones with swan-shaped arms. Come by the library for a visual account of some of the infinite possibilities of chairs, most of which can be experienced non-carcinogenically.
Wooden chair in zig-zag shape.
Gerrit Rietveld, Zig-Zag Chair 1950
Butter-colored leather chairs with metal feet with wheels.
Chair with carved handles that resemble swans.
Several desk chairs in cream and coffee colors, with metal legs and wheels, displayed on a brown carpet.
Red leather recliner chair with silver metal legs.
High-backed armchair upholstered in a red satiny fabric. Short wooden legs.
Mart Stam chair 117. Black lacquered wood seat and back, curved metal frame.
Mart Stam 117
Arihiro Miyake-designed red metal chair.
Arihiro Miyake
High-backed embroidered green satin armchair.
Herman Miller classic armless desk chair, in apricot.
Herman Miller
Scott Burton-designed table and chair set. Child-sized, on wheels, painted white, pink, yellow and blue. The chair has a shiny gray pleather seat.
Scott Burton, 1978
Six La-Z-Boy chairs featuring slightly differing designs and upholstered in different fabrics.
La-Z-Boy November 1976
Two elaborately carved antique wooden chairs with wicker seats and backs.
Squat red armchair upholstered in fabric resembling PVC.
Tuonella by Pirelli
Midcentury modern table and chair set under an orange lamp.
The Worden Company
Jean Prouve-designed chair featuring black leather seat and back, wooden frame and arms, and small tabletop attached to the back top.
Jean Prouve 1956
Classic wooden chair with wicker seat, featuring interlocked wooden design on back strip.
Piazza Originals 
Four reclining armchairs featuring differing upholstery. One is ochre corduroy, another chocolate velvet, another medium-brown leather, another green plaid.
Red fainting couch featuring regal bird pattern in a green room.