The Largest Chair in the Nation!
Driving North on S. Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles a few days ago, I glanced to my right and saw a plain oak chair in a parking lot. Why did it catch my eye? Ahhh, maybe because it was four stories tall? The cars parked underneath it looked miniscule by comparison. My first thought was this is better than the World’s Largest Ball of Twine that astounded Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) in the 1983 movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation.
I continued on to my loft in the financial district, grabbed a backpack with my camera gear, hopped on my mountain bike and headed back. It was 6:00 pm when I got to L.A. Mart, 1933 S. Broadway, and too late to get the shot. The sun was starting to disappear behind another building and was casting unwanted shadows on the chair. The next day, I went back at 5:00 pm and everything was copacetic man! The low angle of the sun hitting the reddish stained oak made the chair look like it was on fire.
The chair is called the “Seat of Design.” L.A. Mart operators got the chair from a consortium of Italian furniture makers. The seat was originally a gift to the Chicago Merchandise Mart from Promosedia, an association of chair and table manufacturers in Manzano, Italy.
It is the largest chair in the United States. Being smaller than the chair on display in Manzano, Italy, it is not the largest in the world, as some Angelinos (especially downtowners) would have you believe.
Built of solid oak with a red stain and polyurethane topcoat, the Seat of Design takes up six parking spaces. The 24-ton seat stood outside the Chicago showroom center last summer for the 35th annual NeoCon world trade show. As winter approached, Chicago Mart operators took it down to prevent it from getting an non-stylish and unwanted weathered look. They shipped it to Los Angeles in the fall.
LA Mart (one whole block of DTLA) has been sold. The “Seat of Design” has not been maintained, and the Southern California sun has burned off the polyurethane topcoat exposing the red stain below. The chairs color is now more akin to driftwood than red oak. Can we really afford to waste 24 tons of oak?