Case 019: “Chairs, Queers!”filed January 21, 2020
From Isaac Newton under the apple tree, to Tom Cruise atop the couch, gays have never been able to just sit and putter according to the inert straight standard. In an expansive corrective effort, The InQueery has teamed up with CB2 to say to queers everywhere, at last: have a seat.
Upright sitting contraptions arrived on the market nearly 5,000 years ago and, for the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s been one long bad chair day ever since. Years of stiff-backed chair conditioning established the civilized sit as status quo. However, for little gay children constantly told to “sit still” or “sit up” or “please get off the piano, dear,” the confines of the classic chair have always been a hard status “no.”
The InQueery launched its investigaytion into queer chair culture when a company meeting to address back pain complaints turned out to be standing room only. The Intensive Chair Unit (ICU) was formed to determine whether plans for a queer-friendly chair had legs.
“We could no longer simply take a stand,” said Bobby Lombard, head of the IQ-ICU. “We needed industrial designers versed in both form and aesthetic to finally give queer folk the chance to sit well, not just pretty.”
A survey of office Google searches and housewarming party small talk suggested several queer-favorite brands that say, “I kind of know design” and “I only live slightly beyond my means.” La-Z-Boy and West Elm dismissed the project as a charity case, but CB2 saw a way to capitalize on their largest consumer demographic.
“When I saw The InQueery’s research, I realized we had a chance to give gays a literal seat at the table” said CB2 senior designer Jessica Shandling, rolling onto the sides of her feet. “My first design was a simple and fun 20th Century Rebellion-Memphis mash-up, but after eighteen months of mockups I saw we had to make some major changes.”
Early testing found that the oft-mandated “feet flat on the floor” goes against even the most basic queer instinct. A targeted study of leg-crosses, from the dainty to the powerful, helped perfect footrests adjustable to three settings: ankle over ankle (The Little Princess), ankle over knee (The Little Lord Fauntleroy), and knee over knee (The Boss).
The traditional chair cushion says only the conventional can be comfortable. CB2’s patented Ergaynomic™ system provides support to queers who prefer to drape themselves across the arms (The Pieta), perch atop the back (Chair-Backing) or reclaim the word “armchair” by resting atop a single arm (The Literalist). The seat and back are fitted with breathable mesh to ease the
workaday transition from circuit party to C-suite. For those who prefer it legs up and tucked (The Rooster), the mesh is electrically charged so you can go for hours without losing feeling in your limbs.
After prototyping several iterations of the chair, another truth emerged as universal: Gays in a swivel chair will be spun (The Sit and Spin). Drawing upon fidget spinner technology, our chair promises a whole new whirl. At press time, test subjects were still spinning and not yet sick of it (except perhaps in the literal sense).
“When I threw dinner parties in my twenties no one would sit on anything that was actually a chair,” says Shandling. She and her partner met designing a series of weight-bearing nesting tables for party guests who sat wherever they pleased (The Vagabond). “Based on The InQueery’s research that queer people love things that are two things at once, we ended up employing a revolutionary design program called Digital Furniture Technology (DFT).” The software allows designers to program their models with the ability to change style and silhouette based on the aesthetic of the room it’s in. “With DFT, our chair can appear to be a small Bauhaus table or a mid-century credenza with a few clicks on the CB2 chair app.”
“Of course some folks will want to keep their distance,” says Lombard referring to those who would “rather stand, thank you” (The Bi-stander). “They’ll be pleased to know, after all this tinkering, our chair is still a chair. Keep it at arm’s length or all the way across the room and it will never let you down.”
Bottom Line: Chairing is caring.
Rating: Jemima Kirke at Marina Abramović’s The Artist Is Present.