Cancalosi’s Chair Fairest of All

Julianne Cancalosi “inverted barrel” design was inspired by her “go-to” chair growing up, an embracing high-backed, and almost-as-high sided refuge that envelopes while simultaneously allowing for varied seating options (from casual slouching and formal sitting to sideways leg tucks).

For the outer shell of her chair Julianne used solid Sapele boards that she re-sawed into several thin slices. Keeping the slices in order, she glued them back together over a curved form, cold-forming the reconstituted boards to create her “staves.” After shaping the staves using the band saw and a well thought out jig, she joined the nine sections together like a barrel with unseen wooden biscuits.

Her creation and those of her four workshop colleagues were unveiled last week in the Union Hall at Centerbrook Architects, where the office gathered en masse to test-sit each chair and raise a glass (or three) in honor of the intrepid crafts persons and their tutors. Hyeon Ju Son, Nick Ficaro, David Peterson, and David O’Connor, along with Julianne, formally presented their patently diverse work: from David Peterson’s elaborate “wine rack” throne and Nick’s breezy canvas chaise lounge, to David O’Connor’s sensuous wooden-slatted lounger and Hyeon’s elegant “less is more” seat.

After much deliberation, the firm’s four partners deemed Julianne’s handiwork to be best in show of the third Centerbrook Chair Workshop. The design/build exercise is offered semiannually to architectural staff and is led by: Patrick McCauley, the firm’s Master Model Maker and Industrial Designer; Ron Campbell, Facilities Manager; and Bill Rutan, Master Carpenter and Facilities Manager Emeritus.

Seventeen Centerbrookians all told have run this woodshop gauntlet, where vision and reality meet (or more properly, collide). There has been blood. As Mies van der Rohe famously noted, “A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.”