Book Chair by David Karoff

I'll never forget the look of barely suppressed rage on my wife's face when the mover hurled a thinly veiled insult her way vis a vis our copious amount of books. The gist of the comment concerned the perceived "uselessness" of books that had already been read. To which my wife replied, "I use all of my books all the time." To a writer-much less a family of writers-the idea of retiring or reclaiming books for some other use entirely independent of reading is a fraught proposition. So while we both may look askance at literary re-assemblages like the Book Bookshelf by Not Tom or today's Book Chair by David Karoff, we nevertheless can appreciate them as a creative re-appropriation with an aesthetic just right for bibliophiles.

Book Chair. Designed by David Karoff.

New Skin for the Old Skeleton of a Retired Chair

Karoff created this contribution to literature from a pile of trade paperbacks that had been donated to a local library for a fund-raising sale. Though the designer doesn't say one way or another, my guess is that these particular books had come to the end of their literary lifespan, so Karoff rescued them from the ignominy of the landfill to re-upholster his slightly altered Morris chair: "The tricky part was drilling the books so they’d fit on the frame… I used a friend’s drill press, and it took at least 20 hours. I had to resist the temptation to read any of the books, because that cut into my drilling time."

Book Chair by David Karoff
Book Chair by David Karoff

One might conjecture that the supposed readability of these particular books is a dubious proposition, given the sorry state to which they had come. But truth be known, for most people, most books are not especially long-lived-just like our hapless mover had suggested. In light of that-and in light of the reality of a universal surplus of bad books-Karoff's chair represents an excellent strategy of re-use. The forgotten tomes, regardless of their content, cohere into a colorful patchwork that creates a unique look, perhaps urging us all to re-examine that old saw about judging a book by its cover.

Via TheBlogOnTheBookshelf.

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