A homage to the chair

The chair as experiment, storyteller, connector of cultures, social metaphor, status symbol and to the chair as art.

These themes are represented in this exhibition with more than 100 unexpected chairs.

Starting at the wardrobe, the chair takes centre stage. Here, your coat is placed on a chair that was plucked from the streets of Utrecht.

With this design, co-curator and designer Joost van Bleiswijk has given the discarded chairs a second life.

Each discarded chair has its own story. Discover these stories at the wardrobe.

Anna Aagaard Jensen zit wijdbeens in haar stoel Basic Instinct

The chair as a social metaphor  ———

Anna Aagaard Jensen’s A Basic Instinct chair encourages the user to spread their legs to sit and make women occupy more space.

Experience it for yourself and #takeaseat. In the exhibition, you can recognise which chairs you can sit on by this hashtag.

photo: Iris Rijskamp

Stoel van rubber op kinderformaat

the chair as design experiment  ———

"Experimenting and trying things is part of the game, with the aim of being able to make that one chair that truly matters." - Richard Hutten

No designer gets bored of the chair. It’s a true design challenge.

Richard Hutten, Kinderstoel 'Bronto' 1997

De hand van Mina Abouzzari op de rugleuning van de door haar ontworpen stoel

the chair as a connector  ———

Mina Abouzahra unites Dutch and Moroccan culture with her design.

Using hand-woven, colourful Moroccan textiles, Abouzahra gives an understated Dutch classic a complete makeover.

photo: Joost Termeer (underpromise agency)

Matteo Guarnaccia bij zijn project van 8 stoelen

Can you portray a country through a chair? And how is our (sitting) behaviour determined by our cultural background?

With his Cross Cultural Chairs, designer Matteo Guarnaccia attempts to capture the culture of eight densely populated countries in eight chairs.

This special series was acquired last year and is now exhibited for the first time.

photo: Michele Foti

Troon van hout

the chair as a status symbol  ———

The chair can also symbolize power and status. Think of the throne. For thousands of years, this has been the chair for the greatest authority.

This is the throne of King Béhanzin, the last king of Dahomey, present-day Benin. What happens when you dethrone a king? Do you then also deprive him of his power?

Thierry Oussou, Impossible is nothing, 2016

The chair can give meaning to those sitting on it but it can also remain painfully empty. This speaks from the chair protest by relatives of the MH17 victims.

Every year, they place 298 empty folding chairs opposite the Russian embassy in The Hague. These empty chairs symbolise the innocent civilian victims and next of kin's call for accountability and responsibility.

Kunstwerk/stoel van Victor Onna

the chair as a work of art ———

What if the chair loses its function? Is it still a chair?

Some chairs are not made for sitting, but rather to be amazed by or make you think.

Like this design by Victor Sonna.

Victor Sonna, Adieu l'enfance -HOLY 2-13, 2020

Approximately fifty high-profile chairs from the museum's collection can be seen in this exhibition. The other fifty are lent by other museums and collectors.

The collection includes many more chairs, amounting up to 1100. They quietly await their turn in the chair depot.

Statement chairs is the ultimate opportunity to see some never-before-exhibited purchases.

Practical information

Statement chairs

Explore the world of the chairs that make a statement.

Statement chairs is an ode to the experimental chair, the unexpected chair, the activist chair, and the chair in art. It brings together more than a hundred surprising chairs that are progressive in material and technological or social terms. Designers, artists and users speak about the many forms and meanings of this ubiquitous seating object. We show over a hundred surprising chairs, that broaden our horizons, raise questions and expose social issues. In short: chairs that make a statement!

In Statement chairs we tell unexpected stories about the chair, its maker and its user. We do this not only through well-known chairs, but primarily by showing designs and artworks that are not so known among the public. You can expect to see work of Anna Aagaard Jensen, Christo en Jeanne-Claude, Mina Abouzahra and Victor Sonna among others. Not only in the selection, but also in the presentation of the work you will be surprised: designer Joost van Bleiswijk (1976) is both co-curator as well as designer of the exhibition.

Image: Photography Joost Termeer ( commissioned by Centraal Museum Utrecht, 2021.


  • Chairman of the board, fotografie: Mikah de Wolf, styling: Renske van der Ploeg, (Het Financieele Dagblad, persoonlijk, sep 2023), pp. 62-69
  • Meanwhile : KiKi X Joost, (Eindhoven, 2021-)
  • Stoel neemt stelling, Inl. Bart Rutten, redactie Esther Darley, Natalie Dubois, Hans Schopping, auteurs Laurie Cluitmans, Catharina van Daalen, Esther Darley, Natalie Dubois, Bart Rutten, Anne van der Zwaag, Centraal Museum (Utrecht, 2023), 24 p.

Collection in this exhibition

  • No objects from the Centraal Museum collection were shown in this exhibition

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