Courtney Starr, Jimmy Possum Chair | No. 19 (WORLD 2021)
Ever since I saw a picture of a "Jimmy Possum Chair" in issue 8 of Mortise & Tenon Magazine, my attention has been captured by the legend of an Australian man who lived in a tree making chairs. The fundamental elements of his design come together to create a folky-yet-modern look. I love how the legs protrude through the seat and into the arms, creating a design that gets stronger as you sit on it. Additionally, I was intrigued by how the arms reach back to capture the outermost spindles in a way that brings strength as well as whimsy to the design. The core construction elements offer a lot of freedom to riff on different variations of the legs, seat, arms, spindles, and crest rail. I wanted this particular chair to look how the Covid-19 pandemic has made me feel. I reflected on all of the complex feelings I've experienced over the past year, and wanted to capture the unpredictable nature of the day-to-day emotions of being stuck at home. Some days the introvert in me loves being cooped up at home, but the next day I find myself wanting to pull my hair out after the fifth straight hour on zoom. There's something off about experiencing the majority of human relationships through small rectangles on a screen. That "something off" feeling has been captured in this chair through its quirky seat, differing arms, triangular spindles, and off-kilter crest rail. And the red spire-like shapes on the spindles? Those represent the Covid-19 cases graph that never seemed to stop spiking. I made this chair at the height of the pandemic, so representing a decline in cases on the spindles was an act of hope; like a prayer made through wood. Lastly, I'll say I entered this chair design without much of a plan. I made a few mistakes, which ultimately ended up creating some of the must unique parts of the chair. That somehow felt very on par with the year I had just experienced.