Charitable Chair

Weber State University interior design students designed historically authentic chairs that were auctioned off for charity.

The “Charitable Chair” auction, featuring 30 one-of-a-kind chairs, was held April 19 in the Val A. Browning Center Eccles Theater. The silent auction began at 6 p.m., followed by a live auction at 7 p.m.

“This is an opportunity for students to recognize a valuable piece of furniture with a historical influence,” said Kristen Arnold, interior design program coordinator. “It teaches students the design process and introduces them to refurbishing and to the design community.”

Approximately 50 students refurbished chairs either individually or in teams of two. The chairs were restored to replicate their original historical styles including the materials, upholstery and motifs. Designers were responsible for finding the chairs, which were either purchased or donated. Each student also obtained at least one community sponsor to donate products, services or money worth at least $100.

The students are enrolled in one of five interior design courses, including architectural detailing, American and modern interiors, and residential design. Interior design majors Kristin Wall and Gillian Simmons worked together on a chair with a rush seat made of a grass-like material that had to be woven by hand. Simmons did the weaving, while Wall stripped and sanded the wood.

“It’s a lot harder to do it by hand,” Wall said. “Many designers sent their chairs out for professionals to complete. We couldn’t find anyone to do a rush seat, so we had to learn.”

The chair they designed has a white rush-seat and dark mahogany wood stain. Both students are proud of the effort and hope to raise a significant amount of money at the auction. 

“I’m pleased to add the experience to my resume,” Simmons said. “This is the first time I have done a restoration, so it’s a great addition.”

Weber State University's new president Charles Wight bought a few of the chairs for himself.  

Overall the event brought in more than 30 thousand dollars of donations.  

Proceeds were divided between the Boys and Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis and the interior design program.

To see all the student designed chairs please visit

Originally written by Kelsy Peterson for WSU Communications