Interstuhl: The Silver Chair and the Silver Screen
Interstuhl’s Silver Chair is one of the most iconic furniture designs of the 21st Century
IIn the early 1900’s the term “Silver Screen” was coined to describe the cinema screen which, at the time, was metallic. In these early years, to display a movie, a reflective projection surface was needed and that is where the silver appearance came from. It’s been over a century since the reflective nature of the silver screen was needed for displaying projected images but at the turn of the most recent century another silver icon has appeared, “The Silver Chair”.
Interstuhl are a German family-owned company that produces seating solutions. Their company mission "the enjoyment of seating". Blending renowned German engineering with mouthwatering design Interstuhl boasts beautiful and functional chairs and tables in their product range. Their flagship product the Silver Chair was designed in 2004 by Hadi Teherani. The chairs creation involved the patenting of numerous designs and in the period 2003 to 2006 the chairs design won numerous awards. Its floating back and smooth aesthetic give it a most striking look. The underside of the seat conceals much of the mechanics for configuring the chair, hiding much of what makes office chairs less pleasing to the eye.
The Silver Chair has a low, mid, and high-back option where each height configuration is achieved by adding an extra modular layer on top of the one below it. The low-back chair is suited for use in conference rooms, TV panels (for both presenter and guests), and as an office guest chair. The high-back configuration is best suited as an executive desk chair. The mid-back option is more versatile and fits in just about anywhere, though it does not have the same sense of purpose as the other configurations. That is no criticism – its multi-purpose function relies on it.
The Silver Chair has been used on the set of numerous movies and TV shows. The most iconic use is in Quantum of Solace where M’s (Judie Dench) office has one mid-back Silver Chair behind her desk and two low-back ones as guest seating. The contrasting seat heights portrays the hierarchy that exists between M and her subordinates. This shows us how seat height is still a signal of status in the office.
While an appearance in a James Bond movie might be the most iconic, the Silver Chair appears in numerous US, Scandinavian and German TV shows and movies. It even appears in Star Trek (2009) in both a low and mid-back version – both configured with a base plate rather than castors – you wouldn’t want to be rolling around in space!
The Silver Chair might be Interstuhl’s most iconic creation but you’ll see other pieces in other titles. The futuristic love story Equals features the KINETICis5 705K stool which is a perfect fit for the detached aesthetic the art department cultivated. We see various Interstuhl pieces throughout the Daniel Craig Bond Movies, the AirPad 3C42 in Skyfall, along with the KINETICis5 700K and MOVYis3 16M0U in Spectre.
Interstuhl are an interesting company in that they actively promote their products on the big screen. This sets them apart since the furniture industry is not very well known for product placement in comparison to other industries such as fast food, electronics and fashion. Product placement of interior pieces is not invasive to the viewer unlike many other types of products. This is because furniture, by its nature, isn’t heavily branded so placement doesn’t come across as obvious or gauche. Of course, the downside is an individual won’t necessarily recognize the piece which means the furniture company has to properly market the placement so interested customers are aware of it.
Product placement of furniture can add significant value to a production since it gives set decorators access to the building blocks of their set without eating into their budget. In effect, this expands the budget available to the set designer and provides the production with another revenue stream. To date, one of the difficulties for furniture manufactures has been how to build product awareness on the back of placing their pieces in movies. Interstuhl who primarily operate in the commercial space can actually leverage on screen exposure better since their clients are more likely to exposed to their on-screen exposure at trade show or as prospective customers. The big screen has provided Interstuhl with a great platform for showcasing their pieces since millions of people have been exposed to them through some of the world’s most well-known shows and movies.
Looking to the future, one piece we’ve yet to see on screen is the UPis5 which is a playful height adjustable stool suited to both the office and home. It seems like a perfect option for a set decorator to imbue a sense of light heartedness into a scene. We’re waiting patiently to spot one!
While Intersthul might not be a household name – particularly since their main focus is the commercial client – their designs place them as a leader in their industry. If you’re interested in getting your hands on their products (assuming you’re not a commercial buyer) we try to source the best places to buy online in the US and UK.
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