| Windsor chair maker: Glen Rundell |
"I make no tables, no bookshelves, no toys, sideboards, cabinets or other furniture - just chairs."
Yes, Glen only makes chairs. And not just any chair, his speciality is the Windsor. But chair making alone has earned him the reputation as one of Australia's most loved chair makers. His chairs, settees, stools and beautifully crafted rocking chairs are sought after by private collectors and discerning buyers both in Australia and overseas. His clients understand that these chairs are an investment that will out-live them, an heirloom piece that will be passed down through generations to come.
When you step into Glen's workshop there is a sense of tradition, authenticity and the feeling that here is a place where you will find craftsmanship in a real true sense.
The Windsor chair is a traditional Welsh country style chair and a design that goes back to 1600s. It is a chair built with a solid wooden seat into which the chair-back and legs are round-tenoned, or pushed into drilled holes. Traditionally, there were three types of craftsmen involved in the construction of a Windsor chair. Firstly, there was the Chair Bodger, an itinerant craftsman who worked in the woods and made just the legs and stretchers, on a pole lathe. Then there was the Benchman who worked in a small town or village workshop and would produce the seats, back splats and other sawn parts. The final craftsman involved was the Framer. The Framer would take the components produced by the Bodger and the Benchman and would assemble and finish the chair. Glen, however, does it all by himself.
When Glen decided to learn chair making, he struggled to find a master in Australia. So, he sold his motorbike, bought a ticket to America and learnt the trade under the wing of Curtis Buchanan, a veteran craftsman who has been teaching for more than 30 years.
Yesterday, my Rundell Perch arrived to our workshop - not as a replacement to a trusted watchmaker's chair - I simply bought it because I have always wanted one.
What is so special about the three legged perch?
1. First leg is the workmanship. Made by Glen, the man of passion and vision, with his own hands, to his own standard of brilliance.
2. The second leg is the wood. The America Walnut is premium American timber which lends itself beautifully to cutting, turning and polishing. Out of all natural materials, wood is the most noble one.
3, The third leg is ergonomics. The original Perch stool was made by Glen's Master, Windsor chair maker Curtis Buchanan based on parameters provided by Dr. Galen Cranz. Cranz is a Professor of Architecture at the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. She studies the social and cultural bases of architectural and urban design. Cranz is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, a kinaesthetic educational system, who founded the new field "Body Conscious Design." The idea behind the stools design is that knees are situated lower than pelvis which requires muscle 'to work and support' the body. Consequently, the spine is straight. Glen says: "Your best sitting position is the next one" meaning a good chair is one which will make you stand up, walk, stretch your legs - and then welcome you again.
Sophistication comes in many shapes and forms.