William Switzer charged Chad Falkenberg and Kelly Reynolds of interior design firm Falken Reynolds with creating a new take on the Model 900-M, a French Regency-style chair. The result is Dauphine, a piece that the manufacturer describes as “what a young Marie Antoinette would own if she lived in a hip Gastown pied-à-terre“. Here, Falkenberg shares his design process.
For this project, we collaborated with William Switzer to create a chair that was a new take on one of their classic designs. We wanted to create a link between past and present, marrying old-world techniques with a current (dare I say, hipster) patchwork pattern. We also wanted to incorporate the idea of reusing and recycling, which is why we went with a patchwork pattern using scraps of discontinued fabric samples. We have access to mounds of scrap fabric in our work because dye lots or fabric mills frequently change, and I’ve always hated seeing them go to waste. Using them for another purpose breathes new life into them. Our inspiration was a picnic blanket made by my grandmother. It brings back the idea of a quilt or a throw—which we often drape over a chair to make it feel more casual—but in this case it has become part of the chair. I still love to use this blanket—made of ‘60s and ‘70s polyester suits—because I know how long it took for her to make it. The whole idea of patchworking was to extend the life of garments that had worn out in the knees or elbows but still had lots of usable material in them. The concept of scarcity on the homesteads of the prairies is something I think we could use a bit more of in our culture of plenty.
We sandblasted the frame before it was upholstered; it looks a bit like it’s been left outside in the elements for decades, and it really emphasizes the style of frame, a fashion which is 300 years old. The sandblasting lends a slightly rough texture and emphasizes the wood’s grain. All of this invites it to be touched, which to us makes it feel less precious and more like something that should be used and loved, like Grandma’s picnic quilt. The chair could fit just as well in an entry or dressing room in a large home, as it would in a brick-and-beam loft in Gastown. Our goal was to tap into the amazing skill set of the Switzer team, but we also wanted to push the boundaries and get everyone excited about something new.
The final piece is available to view at Interior Design Show West, running September 25 to 28 at Vancouver Convention Centre West.