Chairs (and books)

I have recently been on a trip to Spain. It's certainly not my first time and nothing is really that new to me, I've been to quite a few places over the years. However, this time was my first time in Seville.

For me arriving in the Andalucian capital was like feeling the pulse of a main artery, something that I would define as real Spanish blood. It really is an inspiring city to wander around, especially with my native friend as a guide (no getting ripped off on the tapas for me ;-)). The architecture is breathtaking but uncanny, as thousands of years old Arabic influence rubs shoulders with the catholic age that precedes it. Fountains scatter the city as an ancient Arabic symbol of life. Water. The Los Reales Alcázares are a sublime sanctuary in the heart of the urban mass, the Giralda that casts a watchful eye over all; inspiration can come at a short, sharp breath, it is so easy to get carried away.

Yet it wasn't so much the splendour of Seville that drove me to write down some things in my notebook on the plane back. It was books and chairs upon going to my friends's appartment.

Whenever I go to somebody's home for the first time I am immediatly attracted to the bookcase. Before the photos on the wall or the side table, before the tour of the rooms, I just can't help glancing through the house owner's book collection. Quite simply I love reading, but you can also learn things about a person just from their book collection, in this case an admiration of Andrea Camilleri was clear to see; an Italian stacked on a Spaniard's shelves was charming. Then after the books, you look at the photos and tour the house right, Andrew? No, next for me is to look at chairs.

Actually it is the chairs that are evident first, before the books. You don't have to home in on them and twist your head round to read their spines like with books. They look at you as you enter the room. They judge you as much as you judge them. If you listen really, really, really carefully you can hear them mumble: 'Hmm, who's this that has just walked in and is gonna plonk his ass down on me?' I found it strange the first time I consciously related to a sofa (eh, what the hell does that mean Andrew?) Well you know, when you look at a sofa, study its angles and cushions, and it sucks you in, it invites you to plonk that ass of yours down on it whether you want to sit down or not. A subconscious demand to put your feet up and chill out.

Although it's not just the sofa, it's armchairs too, and chairs that surround the dinner table. In recent years I have become a fan of design and architecture and that includes chairs. The great Danish designer Arne Jacobsen does it for me (I mean his chairs, not him...), I love his ant chairs and his series 7 chairs. So it was at this moment that one of my train of thoughts kicks in on a parallel axis. Spain...Seville...other Spanish cities...Barcelona...the Barcelona chair.

I love the Barcelona chair. It is design at its best, it has quality, lines, textures. It is crisp, it is clean. Whereas some people admire the sleek look of a car and the performance under the bonnet, this chair floats my boat. And unfortunatly I don't have one. Yet. Over the years too many house moves and other more pressing and boring household things have jumped the queue and have needed to be bought, postponing and denying me owning one. Well, that along with a probably more significant matter of funds and debts if I am honest.

Compared to a sofa, it's not even that comfortable (now the sofa HAS to satisfy my comfort needs) but it looks bloody great, and for me, is functional (remember, this is my blog, what I say goes). It would be my reading chair, my take-a-break-from-the-desk-on-your-laptop-chair, and the day I have my own house with huge floor to ceiling windows with a view, it would be just that stand alone kind of chair (also so that I can dribble a hockey ball around it in my indoor hockey bursts).

So as I look at photos I took of a great looking corner apartment in a quintessential block in the heart of Seville's centre, I am also imagining sitting looking out the window at the streets below, naturally in my Barcelona chair. Actually, I'm glad my friend didn't have one, I may have been forced to sit there instead and denied myself experiencing la vida Sevillana. Hey, we could have got takeaway tapas and cerveza...


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