Seats of Power

The exhibition shows how closely the history of chairs and sitting has always been associated with expressions of power. The throne of Charlemagne in the Dome of Aachen (Aix- en-Chapelle) or the seats in the Roman curia are well known. The origins of the modern chair can be traced back to these seats thrones of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Over a long period, chairs were reserved for rulers and the upper echelons of society. This did not change until the rise of a bourgeois citizenry in modern times. With the advent of industrial furniture production in the nineteenth century, chairs finally became affordable for wider parts of the population, yet their connection with status and power remains evident up to the present day. The exhibition explores this theme, illustrating how approaches to political, social, and economic power continue to find expression in the seating furniture. A cultural history of modern seating emerges: from authoritarian, patriarchal principles to egalitarian, participatory values; from the backroom chambers of politics and finance to democratic parliaments and designers who aim to bring about a redistribution of power with new seating designs.