Charitable Chair

On April 6, Weber State University Interior Design students applied their classroom knowledge to a real world situation by creating or restoring historically authentic chairs. The event called “Charitable Chair” included over thirty handcrafted and one-of-a-kind chairs. These chairs were then auctioned off at Gallery 51 in the Union Station, Ogden. 

All proceeds raised were given to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis as well as a new scholarship fund for interior design students. 

Visitors were able to preview the chairs from 6 - 6:45 p.m. with the auction at 7 p.m. 

Over fifty students were given the challenge of restoring a historically significant chair or creating a new chair that reflected a significant historical style. 

“The chair I created is a modern interpretation of the adjustable-back chair by designer William Morris,” said Michael Lever, interior design student. “I have always admired his adjustable-back chair. It was cutting edge for its time. No one had constructed anything like that before the mid- 1800s.” 

Lever’s adaptation is upholstered in a reproduction of the famous “Acanthus Tapestry” also designed by William Morris in 1896. 

“I will consider this a successful project 150 years from now if this chair lasts and functions as it should and as the Morris chair has done for 150 years,” Lever said. “Then I will have been successful.” 

It took the culmination of five interior design courses including, Historical Interiors, Architectural Detailing and American and Modern Interiors to provide the students with the knowledge they needed to construct their chairs. 

Multiple companies and sponsors donated money and supplies to the students so they could turn their concepts into reality. 

“North Davis Cabinet & Design did all the refinish work for my chair,” said Kristina Bruderer from Layton, a junior in interior design. “My chair was an interpretation of a Thomas Chippendale ladder-back chair that was crafted of mahogany. North Davis helped me select a finish to resemble mahogany and donated $350 in materials and craftsmanship, so that was really cool.” 

The interior design faculty also refurbished two chairs of their own so they could experience the effort, networking, design skills and management that went into creating these historically authentic chairs. 

“This has been a different kind of mentoring experience way beyond the classroom, said Kristen Arnold. We’ve had to learn to trust students more and help them fine-tune their aesthetic discernment as well,” said Kristen Arnold, program coordinator and interior design instructor. “We have had to be very stern on quality and expectations because this is something that someone will purchase and treasure, and it goes far beyond a normal student project.” 

In addition to the auction, youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs created miniature, edible chairs for display the night of the event. The “Charitable Chair” auction and “Edible Chair” displays are in conjunction with Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll.