In the Year of Our Lord 3 B.K. (before kids), I moved to a small bungalow in a lovely little corner of North Chattanooga. Life was great, the wife and I both had fulfilling careers that allowed us to squirrel away a few farthings and that afforded us ample time for recreation She worked for a marketing firm whose clients were primarily in the commercial interiors world, and I was working for the Design Studio. Given my problems with furniture, this close association with the design world was a dangerous combination.
For those of us with this weakness, the Design With Reach catalogue is nothing less than pornography. The glossy pages of polished designs by the likes of Eames, Corbusier, Van der Rohe, Poulsen, Aalto, and Saarinen provide lurid imagery for furniture fetishists. The name of the company is a misnomer, however, as most of the retail prices are beyond any reach of the masses. While sexual pornography objectifies people and sells fantasy, the DWR catalogue lends personality to objects and provides a mechanism to live out fantasies. If your kink is relaxing with a book and a bourbon on a chrome and luxe leather chaise lounge resting on a cowhide rug in a warmly lit, polished concrete room with a floor to ceiling window view of a bamboo forest, it’s yours for the low, low cost of $4,050 (bourbon not included). Being a fiscal conservative, if not downright cheap, there was no way I was paying retail for any of those fantasies. I was, for the time being, content to flip through the pages of the catalogue from the comfort of my decidedly unfashionable La-Z-Boy.
In time, we were blessed with a bouncing baby boy. One of my great joys was rocking the little guy in the now well-worn La-Z-Boy. Having left the Design Studio two weeks after his birth, I was free to rock twenty-four hours a day. And I did. Having a child brought some things into perspective. I knew that I couldn’t continue with the La-Z-Boy. Rocking all day is no way for a grown man to live. The truth was that I was ashamed of the chair- instead of keeping it in the living room for visitors to see, I moved the chair to the bedroom and populated the more public rooms of the house with respectable and slightly modern pieces. It was during this period that the La-Z-Boy started the slow but inevitable decline that ultimately lead to its demise.
|With the 10-day old boy in the chair.|
That may have been the most comfortable moment of my life.
The force of my constant rocking stressed the metal spring brackets to failure. Being cheap and handy, I bought some hardware and fashioned a makeshift solution. After the brackets failed, the springs were next. Again, I crafted a fix as best I could. I refused to let my chair die, and for the next four years I cobbled together a variety of solutions to keep it arockin’. My repairs were ingenious, but only delayed the inevitable. Toward the end I was partially disassembling and fixing the chair at least three times a week. My wife started to nag. She pleaded with me to let the chair go, and to buy a new one. She went so far as to suggest that I take this opportunity to kick and consider buying a chair that didn’t rock.
|It becomes a problem when it effects the children.|
About that time, whilst perusing the monthly DWR furniture porn offering, I saw an announcement for their semi-annual warehouse sale in Cincinnati. The warehouse sales were mythic events where one could supposedly snag amazing deals on the master works of modern furniture. Some of the work was discounted due to blemish or malfunction, and others reduced due to the vagaries of stock and supply economics. The causes, however, were less important to me than the effect, and it occurred that this might be the chance to finally get a “real chair”.
I am not usually prone to impulse buys, but when it happens it is always a function of design lust. This can be illustrated by my biggest ever impulse buy- a 2005 Chrysler 300. I was in the market for a car the first time I saw a 300. The silver-grey beauty was navigating the S-curves and I fell in love. Within two weeks I had one of my very own. Within a year of ownership I realized that I was no longer in love and began the countdown to the day it made sense to buy something else (some eight years later). Despite this history, I was confident that my knowledge of the DWR product range would preclude the possibility of a rash decision at the sale. I didn’t really have a particular chair in mind, and in fact there was no guarantee that the sale would feature any lounge chairs at all. I lived in hope, however, that they would have a selection and that I would be able to stomach the sales prices.
Having decided to make a weekend of it, we booked into the Cincinnatian- a landmark hotel in their downtown. After arriving and checking in, we went out on the town and skipped around to a couple of martini bars before heading over to Jeff Ruby’s for a steak the size of a small ottoman. It was definitely a spendy night out, but considering that this was our first outing in 30 months it was worth a splurge. I suspect that the debauchery of cocktails, chilled crustaceans, cocktails, dry-aged beef and cocktails was driven by excitement and anticipation of what was to transpire at the warehouse the next day.
Those shenanigans proved costly. Without our alarm clock of a son, and feeling a bit fragile from the spirits, we slept in. I woke with a start to the sudden terror that we would not be the first ones in the warehouse door and might possibly lose out on the perfect chair. Also, it was snowing. This would, of course, prove to be a problem for the real wheel drive 300. We grabbed our things, hopped in the car, and did our best to safely scuttle over the border to Covington, KY and…the warehouse.
Next week, the final chapter...