DSC05033_2-e1334082109870.jpg

The Chairs of Chiavari

In November I was lucky enough to take a guided tour of the Podesta Sedie chair factory in Chiavari, Italy with Elizabeth Moore, Private Art Advisor extraordinaire and my dearest friend in New York.

We set out to meet Fabio Don and Domenico Rocca who founded Segno Italiano in 2010, along with Alberto Nespoli and Paolo Tarulli. They shared my interest in handcrafted Italian furniture and after collecting Chiavari chairs for most of my life I discovered Fabio and Domenico online.

Segno Italiano
Segno Italiano
A favorite chair from my collection
A favorite chair from my collection

After months of emails they agreed to meet us and Domenico took us on a wild ride 2 hours south of Milan through the most incredibly treacherous rain they have ever seen in that part of Italy. We arrive in this picturesque seaside town that I had dreamed of visiting for a very long time. Jet lagged and tired from our journey (although Elizabeth managed to sleep in the back seat) Domenico takes us directly to the Podesta Sedie factory to meet Adriano and Stefania Podesta, the father and daughter who still make these magnificent handmade chairs. As we enter the factory the only sun that broke through the clouds the entire time we were there stream in through the windows highlighting hundreds of spindles and chair backs in a variety of wood species. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life to see these chairs that I’ve managed to collect over 16 of and see how they are made.

The Podesta Sedie showroom
The Podesta Sedie showroom

The “sedie artistiche di Chiavari” began in 1796 when the “Economic Society” (a group of intellectual noblemen) challenged the local craftsmen to find a new style of chair. This first chair was created in 1800 by Gaetano Descalzi and was called Campanino.

A name still today identified as the oldest model of those developed. So were born the chair now famous all over the world for their excellent form and characteristic lightness and robustness.

After our tour of the factory we had the good fortune of meeting Franco and Jacopo Casoni who published an extensive hardcover book last year on the history of these chairs in all of their various forms “Le Sedie leggere di Chiavari”.

Franco is also a renowned wood sculptor and has one of the largest collections of Chiavari chairs. His son Jacopo is a talented architect and they have lived in Chiavari all their lives and treated us to an incredible lunch in the center of town. Afterwards Franco was able to get us into the Villa Rocca, which is now a gallery and houses many of the different Chiavari chair models and chaises.

We then continue for coffee at a nearby cafe and as soon as we enter see another building filled with these chairs.

As I walk further into the building I discover the Rotary Club of Chiavari and am in awe of so many in one room and contemplate moving there so I can enjoy these chairs daily and become a Rotary member myself.

As we end the day Elizabeth and I retire to the hotel and more chairs await us in the lobby and restaurant. Chiavari is a place I will never forget and to be surrounded so many of these delicate yet deceptively sturdy chairs was truly a dream come true!

I share this video narrated by Franco and Jacopo Casoni featuring Adriano and Stefania Podesta and the making of the Chiavari chair produced by Segno Italiano. Segno Italiano will debut a collection of Chiavari chairs at GD Cucine 227 West 17th Street during the ICFF in New York May 19th-22nd. Ciao!

23 Responses to “The Chairs of Chiavari”

  1. Brad Ford

    Andy! Congratulations on the new blog!  Looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see more.  These chairs are incredible and I look forward to seeing your sweet 16! 

    Reply
    • Andy Goldsborough

       Thanks Brad!!  And for the tips!  It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to the next post on Music and then Art in the next day or two.  Very best, Andy

      Reply
  2. NLJernigan

    Love the blog Ange!  This is so YOU!  Thanks for the peek into your design life.

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

      Thanks Nance!  It’s rewarding when I get to share some of my interests and people like you respond so positively!  Look for more posts this week.  xox

      Reply
  3. Mel

    It turned out so great! I love seeing all the pictures online. I look forward to many more entries, I will be perched and ready!

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

       Thank you, thank you Lis!  Can’t wait to get back south and see you again.  xx

      Reply
  4. Persaudharry

    Mant thanks for sharing Andy, your blog is amazing! I look forward to reading more.
    With kind regards,
    Harry @ Creation Baumann.

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

       Thanks so much Harry!  I appreciate it!  Very best, Andy

      Reply
  5. Paul Melo

    Andy, I love your new blog! The logo is great.  Thank you for sharing that wonderful story about the Chiavari chairs!! I felt like I was with you while reading it – I can smell the wood! I want one for myself.  Maybe you can help me locate a good one 🙂 Looking forward to your next post.. Congratulations, Paul

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

      Paul, you’re the best!  I’m so flattered and thankful for such amazing responses today.  I can certainly locate one for you and I will let you know which ones Segno Italiano are bringing here next month when they show the chairs for ICFF.  Will post a short music top 5 tomorrow and one on an incredible artist Friday.  Thanks again, Andy

      Reply
  6. Typearchizar

    I like it a lot , and i find it very unusual, nice first post! Will be waiting for the second one.
    Regards,
    Gina from archizar

    Reply
  7. Amy Cole

    Linxie – Class, smarts, beauty and passion all rolled into one!  Thoroughly enjoyable read and so YOU!  Congrats on a well written first blog, gorgeous website and Hats Off to many more exciting adventures ahead.  XXX
    Linxie

    Reply
    • Andy Goldsborough

      Amy Cole, that is about the nicest thing I could possibly hear!  You are such a sweetheart and I’m honored that you are following The Gilded Owl.  xxoxx

      Reply
    • thegildedowl

      Thanks Jill!  So glad you liked it!  The logo was just a tie in to the owl that inspired the name of the site.  He’s on the about page and I will cover the artist in a future post.  Stay tuned for future posts!  Very best, Andy

      Reply
  8. Joseph Carini

    Andy, your blog is beautiful- congratulations on its launching. I learned so much from the first post on “The Chairs of Chiavari” that I want to go out and buy a pair for myself! I’m so glad you are doing this, I love your design sense which reflected in this Blog. Great logo too.
    I can’t wait to read the next one- Best, Joe

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

      Joe, thanks so much!  It’s been a blast getting this launched and I’m so excited by the interest so far.  Keep following the Gilded Owl and see you soon!  A

      Reply
  9. Stephanie921

    Love your new blog, Andy!  How great to learn about “new” art that looks old, classic handmade furniture, and the latest in music!  Certainly a departure from my current “hometown”!  And regarding the chairs, you should have seen King’s face when I added “chaivari chair rental” to our wedding budget.  He didn’t get it until he saw how much it changed our reception room.  Not sure that he still does, but it remains a standing joke between us.  Thanks again for sharing!

    Reply
    • thegildedowl

      Thanks so much Stephanie!  It’s been a lot of fun writing and the enthusiasm of new friends and old is contagious!  Off to Dallas in the morning but will post again next week.  xx

      Reply
  10. Myevert

    Amazing. I want six of these beautiful chairs! Keep writing and inspiring. Love, MYE

    Reply
  11. Vally

    I have 4 original Chiavari chairs from Chiavari, Italy. Olive wood, “straw” seat. Brought them with me when I moved to the US. Am now moving back to Europe and would consider selling them. I was wondering how to find someone that might be interested. Any Ideas?

    Reply

Leave a Reply