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For a Good Cause, Take a Seat

Area designers upcycle castoff chairs into something chic and new.

Does anyone ever have enough chairs? While some women hunt shoes, the furniture fanatics among us are always in search of that “just right” object to simultaneously dress up a room’s empty spot and provide creature comfort.

On a balmy evening during Design Week last month, if you happened into Lillian August’s Manhattan retail space in the furnishings-rich Flatiron District, you would have had a chance to choose and bid on a fabulous chair, from an array of designer originals.

All custom-made with castoff frames and each of the twenty-three designers’ imaginations, the chairs competed for attention at the International Furnishing and Design Association New York Chapter’s Take a Seat gala and auction, emcee’d by design icon Jamie Drake, with Bonham’s auctioneer Karl Green holding the gavel. Here’s Jamie with a door prize winner and one of the event organizers:

Photograph: Kelly Glancy

With proceeds dedicated to relief for those who suffered losses during Superstorm Sandy, as well as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the more than 200 guests at the event had the opportunity to take home a conversation piece, and do good at the same time.

Some highlights:

Andrea Mihalik, has made a career of one-off chair designs, taking old frames and recasting them with her own artistic and modern take. Wild Chairy—the name of her Philadelphia-based business—has become a go-to source for designers looking for that ideal mix of artist and craftsman to create a chair that is more than an accessory. Working with textile artist and weaver Janell Wysock, the pair created an original that was one of the gala’s big hits. Here are the chairmakers with “Bagabond”:

Photograph: Kelly Glancy

To please a power couple, what better choice than a pair of chairs with metal studded logos to match their personalities? Superheroes “Tie the Golden Lasso” from Christine Baumann:

Photograph: David Macaluso

This year’s “it” color is Emerald, and Rose Ott makes it elegant with “Grace Kelly”:

Photograph: Kelly Glancy

Finally, “Roots,” an organic effort, with real moss, grasses and succulents, by designer Sara Touijer, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “garden chair”:

Photograph: David Macaluso

Designer chair auctions are often a simple way to engage designers with a good cause, and popular with gala-goers. They provide a means to secure an object that no one else can duplicate. What could be better than a one-of-a-kind design that supports good works?