Monday, September 12, 2011

It's just a chair... but it's a Shelby Williams Gazelle.

Normally I don't blog about home decor (as opposed to creating entertaining characters and publishing multimedia), but I've got to tell you I did have something akin to lust for a particular piece of seating.

In fact, this did happen once, not too long ago, when I happened upon a Herman Miller Equa chair at Costco. I plopped myself on the aisle sample, still zip-tied to the pallet. Surprisingly I felt the closest thing to pleasure possible that I could ever have imagined while tethered to a computer keyboard.

I rationalized my need for this object this by considering the facts. Finding a good seat is important nowadays. Especially when a slew of scientific studies point out how homo sapiens didn't evolve to be 9 to 5 desk jockeys. Sitting is now equated to being a couch potato, but you now have the added bonus of eye-strain, carpal tunnel, and multi-tasking attention deficit disorder. So, now I ride an "Equa B" everyday (affordably obtained BTW).

But back to the anecdote at hand. The criteria for a dining room chair is different from an office chair. There is more a premium on appearance. Size matters (in this case smaller!). Nevertheless, the chair still has to be cozy enough to allow you to nosh forever. It shouldn't eject you from enjoying a meal because your posterior gets too sore.

So on with the story...

A few months ago, while on vacation I visited my sister who treated us to a small diner in Pasadena for lunch. I took a seat by the main "farm-style" table with my family to consider the menu. It slowly dawned on me that I was sitting in a very, no make that extremely, comfortable chair. I stood up and looked at it. Then I sat down again.

The cushion was soft but firm.

The design was modern but retro.

The chair was compact but durable.

It afforded a range of motion but provided support.

The diner's chair was a clean white vinyl, but clearly had to take a licking but keep on ticking.

Then (mind you, normally I don't do this either) I surreptitiously bent down to see if the manufacturer's name was written on the bottom. After eating my sandwich, I looked under the chair again to make sure. I walked to the counter, grabbed a the restaurant's business card and pen and wrote it down.

It was a Shelby Williams.

Later when I got home, I emailed the restaurant. I couldn't wait for a reply, so I called them. Not to ask about their recipes, but about their chairs. I hinted to my sister that she could follow up and walk over there during her lunch break if she wasn't busy. One lead led to another, and I discovered that this particular piece of furniture was old and not made any more at all. The company still existed but their website no longer produced this model.

I searched the web and finally identified the item. Mid Century Modern. Akin to Danish Erik Buck and Eames. A Gazelle, aka Antelope or Impala.

A fitting name. Connoting fluid motion. Sleek lines. A burst of energy from a position of rest.

In the back of my reptilian brain, I knew this could be the start of a fruitless search. But indulgently I allowed the seed to germinate, and then watered it with a daily trickle of web browsing. This yielded a predictable paucity of results, most of which led to dead ends. The links that did stand up were on the other end of the spectrum - listings fitted to shoppers where price was not an object.

However, I'm glad to report a happy ending. Miraculously, I found a super nice person who was selling 3 chairs. I immediately hopped in the car to make her acquaintance and came home with my very own trio of orange Gazelles (affordably obtained BTW).

My kids crawled atop them without a second thought.

More importantly my wife was pleased too.

My search has ended for now.

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