[This is part one of two. See part two here!]
Global economic crisis got you down? For my money, there’s no better place to lose those meltdown blues than Princeton’s Lewis Library.
Lewis Science Library is a delirious pre-recession architectural funhouse, a gaudy relic of the University’s freewheeling, freespending salad days. Dedicated only six months ago, Lewis Library brims with the sunny energy of a time before this don’t-call-it-a-depression cast its pall over the Princeton campus.
Insurance magnate Peter Lewis donated $60 million for the library’s construction, and the investment shows in ways beyond Princeton’s choice of renowned architect Frank Gehry as the designer. Everything in “Louie Lib” is crazy expensive.
The chairs alone – my God, the chairs! These chairs are a safe haven for wannabe investment bankers jangled by volatile markets; these chairs are big money converted into safer, more immutable forms.
I’ll admit to being a little obsessed. I’ll admit to spending an entire afternoon taking a census of all the chairs in the building. I’ll admit to entering this data into an Excel spreadsheet, along with price quotes for each piece of seating. I’ll admit to calling a furniture store in Illinois to get some of these price quotes.
The fruits of my labor, Part 1, after the jump:
The Chair: Egg by Republic of Fritz Hansen The Count: 33 in Lewis Library
The Price: $5,934 each at Design Within Reach (bulk prices may be lower)
The Scoop: Designed in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen for the lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, the Egg Chair has become visual shorthand for sexy space-age modernism, and recently (fittingly) appeared in a Priceline advertisement featuring former Starship Captain William Shatner. All Egg Chairs are made by hand and take 16 weeks to construct; the ability to cover such a complicated shape with only two pieces of fabric and one seam represents a significant feat of manufacturing. The Egg chair also comes in a $15,000 cowhide version. Princeton, with an eye towards restraint, opted for a wool blend.
The Egg Chair: Awesome? Extravagant? Beyond awesome? Symbol of everything that was wrong with Princeton’s spending priorities? All of the above?
As long as we’re soliciting personal opinion, let me say that I’m not even sure if the chairs are comfortable, really. But I do know that once you’ve done your English reading in a $5000 intergalactic space pod, everything else just feels kind of inadequate.
(photo source: Brian Wilson, princeton.edu; DWR.com)