Design Critique, need some chair help

Finished table

Finished table

It’s a common problem for a chair builder to get requests to design and build a table to compliment some chairs. Furniture builder Petri Nojonen has this dilemma flipped around. After building a contemporary table of his own design he’d like to design and build some chairs to compliment the table. We had a bit of early discussion about how to capture something that echoed the table design and avoid seating that looked like and afterthought. His first thought was to build some Welsh stick chairs inspired by Chris Schwarz. That may be a perfectly good idea but I encouraged him to think about details in the table that he could use to link them. This actually brings up a bigger question about how to link furniture pieces together. Is it enough to simply use similar wood and finish? Or should he just grab a small detail like a curve, or perhaps think about sinking a contrasting strip of wood in the seat like is used in the table top? In his first attempt he wondered if the structure under the table could be somehow built into the chair undercarriage.

Below are some details on the unique design of the table and then a look at his concept sketch for the chair design. Your thoughtful comments are welcome. Hopefully we can help him find that chair design he’s searching for.

Table has a wood and metal undercarriage

Table has a wood and metal undercarriage


Detail of his connection between metal rail and legs

Detail of his connection between metal rail and legs








His jumping off inspiration for the chairs is from this Chris Schwarz Welsh Stick Chair

His jumping off inspiration for the chairs is from this Chris Schwarz Welsh Stick Chair









Here’s Petri’s the concept sketch for the chair design.



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6 Responses to Design Critique, need some chair help

  1. Kinderhook88 says:

    I immediately thought of a chair that (I thought) Sam Maloof made. It had sort of trestle-like legs and looked more like a rocking chair without arms, except the rockers would be straight. I must sound like a madman, but I have searched and searched and can’t find a picture. In any case, I think the Welsh chair would seem fragile and perhaps a bit refined for a table like this. Straight, stout lines are what I see.

  2. Hi, I agree that the Welsh chair would look a little bit fragile – kept as is, but my idea was to keep the seat and make the sticks in the back quite sturdy, something like 30by30 mm in the middle and thinning out as we go to the sides. Also, somewhat triangular in cross-section.
    And metal in the chair undercarriage to marry the designparts.
    Hope you find the image you are looking for, maybe it will help!

  3. Dave Fisher says:

    I think the style of the traditional Irish “Tuam Chair” would harmonize well with the style of the table, especially considering the broad single-board back that extends all the way to the ground. More is available by searching “Tuam Chair,” but here is a link for a quick view

  4. That will absolutely be a design-consideration for the “dining chairs” … maybe it´s a little bit unclear above, but my designquestions here are pertaining to the chairs at the highend of the table. That´s why I am giving them the oversize treatment and the “regal aura”.
    The dining chairs will be more suited to, well, eating at the table and for that these Tuams are good contenders!
    Thanks for the input Dave.

    This is a link to my tablebuild, not that I need advice on that any more, it´s fait accompli now.
    But maybe you can see some designcues that would make it into the chairs. Hope you like it,

  5. paul starita says:

    Remember the only view of a chair is from the back as you approach the chair.The brilliance of the Windsor chair is often thought to be the rear view.Having said that I would vote for a delicate upper and a sturdy lower,that portion possibly incorporating a lighter version of your metal brace

  6. That´s a great design-tip Paul. I will make a scalemodel pretty soon and will keep that in mind. The underside will get a version of the metalgirder, scaled down.

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