“Inspiration is not imitation. It is not simply recreating something you have seen…it is taking something you have experienced and allowing it to filter through your own unique sensibility, so that when it comes out, it comes out new.”
– Thomas Pheasant
The Klismos chair, with its graceful, sweeping silhouette, has been one of the most influential styles of furniture produced over the many centuries of furniture design. It has been reinterpreted by the French, the English, the Russians, and certainly by some of the best American furniture designers from Benjamin Henry Latrobe to T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings. Its sculptural form has allowed it to accent both modern and traditional interiors with great ease. While many of these interpretations are beautiful, few meet today’s demand for comfort. Its beauty has allowed many collectors to overlook the reality that most of these forms are uncomfortable.
Most of my creative moments occur on airplanes. When I am in my DC studio, my time is divided by the business of design, clients, staff, emails, phone calls and the daily unexpected surprises. So I have learned to ignore the unpleasant realities of flying and to look forward to the peace and quiet of being up in the air, alone, strapped in a chair with my sketch pad and pen.
One of the challenges of creating a new collection of furniture is developing new products that not only present a new idea, but also that incorporate today’s demands for comfort and function.
In designing my new collection for Baker, my very first thought was that I wanted to produce a new occasional/lounge chair that would capture the sweeping silhouette of the Klismos style, and at the same time present something new.
My DC staff works with me to take my sketches and translate them into CAD drawings. These drawings are then sent electronically to Baker where they are reviewed by engineering. Baker then produces a set of full-scale drawings — and that’s when we come together at the factory to begin the review process.
This process can be a tug-of-war among many factors. I have a vision, engineering has to make it work, and price implications are carefully considered throughout the process. Bringing all of these ideas together in one piece of furniture can be an enormous undertaking… but when it comes together, it is extremely exciting.
Two months have passed and I am back at the factory for another review. This time I am presented with a model of the frame for my review. Still not engineered for strength, my focus is solely on proportion. I spend a good deal of that day alone with the frame. These reviews are intense and I request time alone during each review to gather my thoughts before bringing everyone in.
After long hours with engineering my focus shifts to upholstery. The upholstery group brings in the first round of tufted cushions for my comments. A good first round but more notes and revisions are required to maintain the sleek profile of the chair.
On my next visit to the factory I work with Anissa Leatherman, who assists me in creating new fabric palettes for the collection. One of the biggest fabric challenges was the development of a new leather for the Athens Chair. I wanted a new color I call Cameo. It needed to be whiter than ivory, but not stark white. This sounds simple but we went through endless color trials before striking just the right note.
Over the next 5 months there are countless emails exchanged, many trips back to the factory, and lots of determination by all to produce a chair that would be stellar.
I write this blog to share a process that is so rewarding to me as a designer. I also hope that in sharing this process I acknowledge the contributions of an incredible team of people that made this past year remarkable.
Finally! Just a few weeks until Market and I am here in High Point shooting the new collection for the catalog. The Athens Chair in Cameo leather is ready for its debut!
Baker is excited to announce the addition of many new designs from The Thomas Pheasant Collection, including the Athens Chair. Launched at High Point Market to much critical acclaim, the new collection represents an evolution of the designer’s classical ideals. Visit our website to browse the designs, or click here to read more posts from Mr. Pheasant about the inspiration for this collection.