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Not Your Average Chair: Students Find a Multidisciplinary, Artistic Solution

This fall and winter, Dana Hall’s Exploring Design students are collaborating with the Helen Temple Cooke Library staff on the artistic and utilitarian endeavor of creating slipcovers for 15 library chairs.
The original armchairs, part of the 1998 library renovation, are worn and tattered from frequent usage. While at Dana, Olive Ju ’16 pushed to find a creative solution.
Inspired by Ju’s motivation to give the chairs a facelift, Library Director Stephanie Donohue researched innovative and cost-effective options.
“Replacing or even reupholstering a fleet of 15 armchairs is not an inexpensive undertaking, so I began to look into slipcovers when inspiration struck,” explains Donohue. “I realized we had the chance to create blank canvases for students to actually leave a beautiful, physical, personal stamp on the library, and I reached out to Visual Arts Department Chair and Dana Art Gallery Director Michael Frassinelli to see if he had any interested students. He did!”

Six members of the Frassinelli’s Exploring Design class created pattern designs in the computer lab or by hand and small-scale models of the chairsS. Burns '20, I. Mao '20, N. Park '20, A. Sibold '20, K. Smith '20 and A. Wainwright '20 made sketches to be either hand-painted on the fabric, or designed digitally in Photoshop and printed by a custom-designed company called Spoonflower. Frassinelli and his students also constructed a large-scale cardboard model of the library chairs.  Students will use this larger replica to cut and sew the fabric.

There will also be a contest for students outside the Exploring Design class to submit a slipcover design. Blank chair outlines are available in the library for interested parties.
Frassinelli and Donohue are aiming to complete the project by mid-January. The new covers will be changed periodically throughout the year once complete.
    • Small-scale chair designs

    • Exploring Design students working on chair designs

    • Students constructing large-scale cardboard chair

    • Students constructing large-scale cardboard chair

    • Students designing new chairs

    • Large-scale cardboard chair model

    • Original, worn chair

    • Original chair with tear

    • Original chair with tear

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    "I love playing basketball at Dana. Our team is really like a family, and we’ve grown so much over the three years I’ve been on the team. My freshman year I never would have thought that we would be able to win the EIL league, but this past winter we did! What makes the team so great is how we look out for each other on and off the court. My teammates are my biggest supporters and it’s always great when we get to welcome new members onto the team. I can’t wait to be captain next year."
    -Stephanie '18