Latest Centerbrook Chairshop Creations Unveiled

Before a packed house in The Cube – the “public square” in the middle of our pondside factory – the latest Centerbrook Chairshop creations emerged for the first time; the pride and sense of accomplishment from their designer-makers evident to all.

The Chairshop, for the uninitiated, is the brainchild of Principal Emeritus Jeff Riley, FAIA, who envisioned an opportunity for our staff to design and fabricate their own chair with the benefit of expert tutelage from our in-house craftsmen. Chairs are a tricky challenge, with dynamic forces placed upon relatively thin elements that also must balance aesthetics with comfort and practicality.

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Jill Cartagena

Jill described how she conceived her chair, a modern take on a classic Adirondack, from Pinterest inspirations through sketch iterations and foam study models to two full-scale mockups. Jill had never set foot in a wood shop before, so she set gaining proficiency with the tools and equipment as her top priority. Her design benefitted from its symmetrical elements, which made the build a bit easier, though Jill admitted that the curved plywood seat presented complexities that she had to overcome.

Misha Semënov-Leiva

Misha admitted that his biomorphic chair was an exercise in reducing complexity to meet practical requirements. He imagined a chair whose seat levitated with magnets, which proved unworkable. He ran with the concept though, using Teflon furniture glides to suspend a walnut hemisphere that he carved on a lathe using a clever pivoting cutting jig. Curved legs of Baltic birch plywood suspend the seat within a bent oak frame whose joints disappear. The seat and lumbar area are covered with a fabric whose color was inspired by the brilliant paprika carpeting in Paul Rudolph’s Art & Architecture building at Yale.


Patrick McCauley runs the pivoting jig he devised to cut the walnut seat for Misha’s chair.