When asked what I most like building, I answer with a chair. Rocking chairs have over 100 pieces in them, and almost none of them is straight. Dining chairs are critical so you can enjoy eating, and not worry about how uncomfortable your back is. Hand-sculpting everything, I expose all joinery in my chairs, so you see how pieces connect.
This is the most comfortable chair you will ever sit in. The end. Near Fredericksburg, Virginia lives Hal Taylor – my rocking chair coach. You could learn about complex curvilinear joinery, or the proper way to employ Pi to calculate the rocker radius and leg lengths. Or, just sit in the most comfortable chair you ever sat in, and hold on to this heirloom piece for several generations to come.
This is the most comfortable lowback dining chair you will sit in, since the backrest is coopered like a whisky barrel to contour to your back. The grain of the seat flows into the same orientation as the backrest. The sculpted arms and seat turn this dining chair into a chair for offices, work, and relaxing. This is a coopered lowback dining chair inspired by a Sam Maloof design with modern updates.
What happens when you take the most comfortable chair, then raise it, then add the most relaxing footrest? The Batstool has all the features of our chairs – a coopered backrest for a snug fit and pleasing lines, sculpted seat and arms, timeless leg lines, and one key addition. Typical stool crossbars are afterthoughts connecting left front to right front. The Batsool has the most serene crossbar footrest imaginable with sculpted areas for each foot, the backs have a natural notch for hooking a heel, the whole piece is oriented 21 degrees downward to maximize comfort in accordance with podiatric best practices, and the bottom is contoured in a convex manner simply to attain the elusive title of The World’s Most Complicated Yet Comfortable Footrest. Oh, the footrest is also shaped like a bat.
The Spugnardi LC2 Lounge Chair
I built a lounge chair that is perhaps the most comfortable non-rocking chair ever made. That’s a bold statement, Cotton, but true. Based on the iconic Le Corbusier LC2 chair for the boxy nature and Hal Taylor’s sculpted seat and flowing vertical-grain back rest, this chair is functional and beautiful. The LC2 chair was designed in 1928, and was used in the iconic 1980 Maxell ad nicknamed the “Blown Away Guy” photographed by Steven Steigman. The LC2 chair has numerous other references in pop culture and is in the permanent MoMA collection. This Spugnardi chair is a modern update as a wood LC2 chair. In viewing the chair from the front, you will see a nod to Le Corbusier with the flared ninety-degree arms subtly similar to how he flared out his steel tube to support the high arms. The arms, sides, curved backrest, and sculpted seat are made of 2 inch, or 8/4 for insiders, Virginia black walnut with the side panel made of walnut plywood. To simulate the comfort of Le Corbusier’s cushions, I tested many different angles, and settled on a solid raked angle optimized for lounging. The backrest angle looks very aggressive, and it is meant to be. This is a chair for relaxation. You will note the sapwood (new wood) highlighted in the center of the seat – a style popularized by Hal Taylor. Most large scale builders try to remove sap wood, but I think it merits visibility. This is a beautiful chair that can be customized in any species. When you purchase this, we will try to include a photographic replication of you as the Blown Away Guy ad complete with leaf blower, martini, lamp, necktie, and wig (if necessary).
Out of respect to the original and iconic ad, here are some photos in black and white.
The Leland Bench
Each bench we make is one of a kind. Using live edges on one, or both, or even neither edge creates a unique look. Made from a solid slab of wood, we sand these to a very fine sheen then apply a hand-rubbed oil finish. Please do not settle for thin benches of 1″ or 1.25″. Weak. We use 6/4 or 8/4 benches for a substantial heft and more natural look. We finish these benches with wood or steel legs. Sizes range from 18″ tall to 36″ to 72″ wide.
In Virginia, we have great access to black walnut, various maples, and cherry. Sometimes we get access to rare species such as English Walnut. There is no wood like this.
Why is a Taylor rocker so comfortable?
Once you sit in this chair, your back will thank you. The back braces are free-floating which means they are neither glued to the chair nor the headrest. They move. The other secret factor is each of the seven braces in the chair is made with six extremely thin pieces of precision hardwoods to make a very strong and very flexible brace that conforms to your back and makes for the most comfortable chair there is. Competing rocking chairs usually are made with ten pieces of wood. Just the back braces on my chairs are made with over forty. With our work here with carbon fiber composites, we are constantly pushing how strong yet thin these braces can become while still maximizing user comfort.
What is a coopered backrest, and why should I care?
Wine barrel makers cooper the staves of a barrel by cutting each stave at an angle to make the round barrel of 360 degrees. Most staves are in the four to seven degree range. Your back cares about this math, since most chairs have a horizontal piece of wood that has almost no curve. Our coopered backrest has the grain oriented vertically, like a barrel stave, and has a much deeper curve. Each piece of our backrest is cut in the four to seven degree range to make a total of 28 degrees of curve. This not only feels great on your back, but easy on your eyes, since all of the grain flows in the same direction – from seat to arm to backrest.
The below photo shows the difference between a typical “25-minute chair” on the left and a Spugnardi lowback chair on the right. Most dining chairs begin to feel uncomfortable in 25 minutes, while many happy users of the Spugnardi lowback use this chair as an office chair, and sit in this comfortably the entire day.
What has changed in the past few years in chairs?
Curves. In the beginning, the arms simply sat on the front legs. Just like many times you said in your life, “this seemed like a good idea at the time.” Today, I am making this front leg / arm transition much curvier so there is far more wood sculpted away as the curves move from the front leg to arm to rear leg. This is a subtle point, but it does catch your eye.
What is that rocking footstool?
A rocking chair footstool should be able to drive the sitter with the most minimal rocking motion dynamics necessary whilst maximizing comfort. This footstool is modeled after the same 1/16th” laminates of the rocking chair rockers, which means it is: stunningly beautiful, ridiculously complicated to make with over fifty pieces, and complementary to the chair’s rockers as the curve proportionally encourages relaxation. This piece could have been made of only three pieces and looked similar, but that is not why you are here I suppose.
Sometimes a chair simply will not work. Perhaps your breakfast room or dining room has spatial requirements. Perhaps you just need something multiple people can sit on for multiple generations. This stunning Virginia walnut bench has a beautiful live edge on each side, and a “waterfall” joint that highlights woodworking precision with beautiful 45 degree angles so the grain flows continuously from the bench to the side. The other side is held up with curvy legs that showcase what can happen in custom furniture when a client and builder partner together to build something custom and cool. Can be custom sized to any height and length.