Keeping it Local with Sam Norris Furniture

by TruexCullins, October 16, 2009

Check out these beautiful chairs made by local furniture maker Sam Norris.  We collaborate with Sam here at TruexCullins and always love to see what he’s working on.  Here’s a description of the Empress Chairs from Sam.
“When I took a break from furniture making several years ago to work on the restoration of a classic wooden boat I lightheartedly swore that I’d never again design a piece of furniture with curves in it.  Seldom in boatbuilding did I find a straight line, and the work grew from challenging and fascinating to painstakingly slow.  Predictably, every piece of furniture I have designed since is full of curves; the graceful lines and sparse structure of the racing sloop had sunk in.  The Empress Chairs are no exception.

Originally designed to complement a desk I built for the 2008 New Hampshire Furniture Masters’ Association auction, these chairs take their original design concept from two classic Chinese chairs—one a straight-backed, rigid appearing piece with ornamentation on nearly every component, the other a fluid design with hardly a straight line to be found.  I worked toward a contemporary look that combined the strongest elements of each chair and did away with the involved pierced carvings and other ornament.

The result leaves no question as to the historical referent of the chair but gives a more inviting feel.  The subtle curves of each component, the doming of the faces on each leg and the soft, rounded surfaces of the arms and the laminated lumbar support of the back splat all have comfort in mind. The hand-woven cane seat is another alteration from the original.  The Carolina close weave and the wrap around the split seat rail is a nod to Danish chairs, meant to give these chairs a more contemporary feel.

The Chinese originals were imposing pieces, meant to accommodate the robes or stature of their owners who were certainly members of the ruling class.  My intent with the Empress Chairs was to scale back the originals, softening their appearance, while maintaining their strong presence.”
Turns out, Sam sold these chairs to Governor Sununu and his wife, Nancy, through the New Hampshire Furniture Masters’ annual auction.  Check out his website samnorrisfurniture.com.

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