Are these the ultimate high chairs?
Sitting pretty inches from the ceiling at the Museum of Arts & Design in Columbus Circle is Year and a Day, artist Marc Andre Robinson’s circle of chairs. And yes, you could sit on them if they had cushions and were on the floor.
The installation, on view through September 16, is a free, ground floor preview of Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design, a show of nearly 90 sculptures, furniture and artworks in an upstairs gallery. It’s a smart show. But if you’re in the area and strapped for time, the lobby’s hanging woodwork is an all-but-guaranteed smile.
It’s also an idea fest. Asked the obvious – why chairs? – Robinson says the chair
symbolizes a kind of human potential. “It represents autonomy in the sense that it stands for a choice: a chance to rest, to reflect, to stand, to author and even to rebel.” He also likes chairs a lot. (I do, too.)
His circle looks to be harvested from dining rooms, tag sales, attics, Quaker meeting halls – in other words, forget design-forward woodies like Swedish mid-century or George Nakashima, or even chairs in mint condition. These chairs are workhorses.
As for the elliptical name, a year and a day was the time an escaped serf needed to remain a fugitive to win freedom. It’s also the concentric circles representing the earth’s revolution around the sun and its rotation on its axis. Sit on that.
Nearest hotel for a drink or meal: The museum is almost the first thing you see when you walk out the door of 6 Columbus. Above 6, the tiny but charming roof bar, is open for the season, serving drinks and nibbles curated by the Blue Ribbon Sushi, the hotel’s Japanese-sleek restaurant and bar. Open daily, 5 pm to midnight. Reservations suggested. 212 397-0404.
Museum of Arts & Design, 2 Columbus Circle; 212 299-7777. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm; Thursday and Friday until 9 pm. Admission $16.