Sunday, January 24, 2010


We spent much of the day today at the newly renovated UBC Museum of Anthropology opening event. I think it started yesterday and goes on for three days.
The museum is one of the first places I visited in Vancouver when I moved here in 1979. It was always great, now after the renovations, it is even better.
There is a huge abundance of fantastic woodwork, ancient and contemporary, from many different cultures. To get a better idea of the collections, visit the website Or, better still, visit the museum.
One of the things I noticed when we first entered the museum were a trio of wood chairs at the entrance to the gift / souvenir shop. The literature attached explained that the chairs were commissioned by the museum as the MOA chair and described as an “iconic chair”. The design was credited to the head architect for the renovations, Noel Best of Stantec Achitecture. There is no credit given to the actual maker, although the shop manager told me they were made in Vancouver. It was also explained that the starting point for the design came from the Pacific Coast First Nations bent box joinery techniques, followed by ergonomic, anthropometric considerations to arrive at the curved shapes to support the body.
I did not have a camera with me to document the chair, nor anything to write on, or with, so I purchased a pencil for 99 cents and made a simple profile sketch on the back of the receipt. The chair consists of a back, a seat and a front leg / panel. All of these pieces are the same thickness (approximately 7/16” ) and width(approximately 16”) and made from 3 or 4 plies of laminated edge grain fir. There is also a separator between the seat piece and the back as well as a beam structure under the seat to re-enforce the joint between the seat, the front leg /panel and the back. The three pieces that make up the seat, back connector piece and front leg / panel are joined with a “V” or mitre joint inspired by the bent box joints. The curved back panel is joined to the seat assembly by typical “IKEA” style exposed hex head bolts.
The retail price for the chair is $2400.00 cnd.
This chair is very comfortable. The quality of material is very good and the look of the chair is attractive (it comes in three colours). Given its simplicity and exposed bolts, I was surprised at the price. I know that other museums such as those designed by famous “starchitects” have created “iconic” furniture pieces, I don’t know if this one with do the same job for the MOA, given that searches for anything relating to the MOA or Noel Best turned up nothing on the Stantec web site

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