Very Ugly Chairs That Cost the Same as a Year's Tuition
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Very Ugly Chairs That Cost the Same as a Year's Tuition

Rachel Bell
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Since the age of 10, I’ve had an unusually intense, maybe even bordering-on-unhealthy, interest in chairs. The whole thing started in Canada. In 2003, my dad took the whole family on a big road trip, where we spent an afternoon exploring the Montreal Museum of Fine Art’s impressive collection of decorative art and design pieces. There I was, 10 years old, absolutely enthralled by an Eames Lounge Chair. In the gift shop of the museum, my dad bought me the Taschen book ‘Chairs.’ Over the years, I would spend hours drawing blueprints of my imaginary future home, each room dotted with numbered circles to indicate which chair would go in which area of the house.

So of course, 15 years later, I was hooked when I discovered the online antiques dealer 1stdibs. On the testimonials section of the site, between endorsements from Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg, Tom Ford is quoted as saying, “If I go on my computer, there’s a button that can connect me to all the sites I look at most often, and they’re all porn—and 1stdibs.com. Porn and antiques!”

The energy of horny rich people is something that I’m extremely interested in absorbing, so I browse the site pretty regularly (with absolutely no intention of purchasing anything). And I am never disappointed when I see the ridiculous collection of hideous chairs—chairs you have to strain your mind to imagine how a human might sit in them, chairs that cost more than a year of college tuition in the United States.

Chair Covered in Neckties

Pedro Friedeberg Hands and Ties Chair - $29,500

One year at North Carolina State University - $29,015

For roughly the cost of one year at North Carolina State University, you can own this gut-wrenching armchair upholstered in neckties and embellished with tiny golden hands. This chair screams, “If I went to Hogwarts, I would be a rat-bastard prefect, narcing on Harry Potter to the headmaster. I also think that liking Game of Thrones a lot is a substitute for a personality.” Added bonus: the website description states that “Purchase of this is accompanied by a photo of Pedro Friedeberg himself standing next to the chair.” Pedro Friedeberg himself!

Drooling Bird’s Nest Sleeping Pod

Porky Hefer, "Mud Dauper", Kooboo Cane Sleeping Pod - $40,000

One year at Michigan State - $39,765

I initially misread the name of this chair as “Muddy Diaper,” which I believe to be a far more apt description. It also resembles a giant bird’s nest with a tongue. The man who designed it is named Porky Hefer, because of course he is, and it is one of the only pieces of furniture on this list that does the customer a favor by showing a person (I can only assume Porky) actually sitting in it. While helpful, I’m still a little lost on how exactly you’re supposed to attach this to a wall so it supports the weight of an adult human. Maybe a year at Michigan State can help me figure it out.

Chair of Nightmares

Leda Armchair, Inspired by Salvador Dali “Femme á la téte rose” - $39,600

One year at The University of Connecticut - $39,894

While I’m sure this chair, based on a Salvador Dalí painting, sells like hot cakes to wildly wealthy people with only a base-level understanding of art, I don’t find it to be very practical. Dalí was a Surrealist, and words that are often used to describe Surrealism—unnerving, illogical, irrational, uncanny, unconventional—are not words that I want to describe my furniture. It only has three legs which, at the bottom, morph into harrowingly thin little high heels. Maybe Dalí would have liked that. Maybe I can learn more about what Dalí would have liked during a year spent studying art history at the University of Connecticut.

This Chair Has Butt Cheeks

Bespoke Anthony Redmile "'Body Chair" - $28,000

One year at The University of Kansas - $28,034

It is a challenge to choose the most revolting piece of furniture on this list, but it’s truly hard for me to look at this “Bespoke Body Chair” without feeling a little queasy. Yes, chairs have legs. Humans also have legs. That does not mean it is necessary, or in any way revolutionary, for a person to make a chair with human legs. The cushion is embroidered with a pair of concentric circles, which I can only assume are meant to resemble two boobs with nipples. The chair has boobs, so of course the chair has an ass—complete with cheeks, lower back dimples, and a pair of folded hands with red fingernails clasped underneath. If I’d been educated at the University of Kansas, I could perhaps compose a feminist critique of this monstrosity—something about how the unrealistic form and the idea of women as furniture reveals the misogyny infecting every aspect of life, even furniture design. But I didn’t go to college, so I’ll just say, “No thanks!”

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Chair

"Maotwana Finyela", Bronze Sculptural Seat - $45,600

One year at Loyola University Chicago - $45,543

I only have two things to say about this chair: 1) It looks like Krumm, the guy who holds his eyeballs in his hands in the Nickelodeon show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and 2) nothing, even the fact that it’s a chair and a lamp, justifies spending the equivalent of one year of schooling at a well-regarded private college on a piece of furniture. Actually, one more thing: I already see my clothes draped over a normal chair in my room in the middle of the night and think it’s something terrifying coming to eat me in my sleep. I don’t need to buy a chair that will triple the likelihood of a late-night scare.

Got Crabs?

Italian Crab-Form Grotto Chairs - $39,689

One year at Kansas City Art Institute - $39,355

These chairs are both hideous and versatile. Each “crab” has a hinge on the back that allows you to flip back the shell, revealing the baby diarrhea-colored velvet seat. So when you’re just chilling alone in your house, they look like scary sculptures of giant sea creatures. When guests come over—if you trust them enough to allow them to sit in your $40,000 19th-century chairs—you open them up. They’re also large enough that you can probably fit half of your ass on the seat. So that’s cool and useful.

Is It A Chair If You Can’t Actually Sit In It?

Unique "Vertical Submarine" Chair - $30,000

One year at The University of California Los Angeles - $30,410

Axe-throwing bars have been popping up all across the country in the past few years—because of course we should mix alcohol consumption and potentially deadly weapons. It makes about as much sense as designing a chair so covered in knives that you can’t sit down in it.

Someone Pooped In A Dragon’s Egg

"Plante Carnivor" Armchair by Louis Durot - $62,913

One year at at Columbia University - $57,549

Here’s how I imagine the origin story of this chair: You tell a two-year-old to make an egg, but you only have red and green Play-doh. They do their best, but their motor skills aren’t fully developed because they’re only two years old, so it looks pretty shitty. Then, you use some kind of advanced technology (which a person could perhaps invent after a year of studying at Columbia University) to make the Play-doh creation chair-sized. Then, the two-year-old sits in the dragon’s egg chair and poops on it. Voilà! A $60,000 chair.

Another Chair That Looks Like The Human Body? Revolutionary!

Very Rare Russian Folk Art "Skeleton" Chair - $85,000

One year at DePaul University - $42,202

When I hear the words “human skeleton,” just one thought comes to mind: “I’d like to sit on one of those!” Bones are known across the world for being comfortable and great to relax in at the end of a long day. That’s why this chair, which costs the same as half a bachelor’s degree from the college I dropped out of almost 10 years ago, makes so much sense. Plus it’s blue—playful!

A Chair Made Of Paper

Lovers Chair in Paper and Steel by Nacho Carbonell - $85,790

One year at The University of Tulsa - $42,723

You have two choices. On one hand, you can spend two years in college in Tulsa, the second largest city in Oklahoma, potentially enriching your mind with knowledge. On the other hand, you can buy a chair that is literally made out of paper by a man who is literally named Nacho. Up to you.

Dead Giraffe and Buffalo Chair

Giraffe Grand Armchair with Buffalo Horns - $111,528

One year at Yale University - $55,500

My first thought upon seeing this chair was, “How the fuck do you sit in that?” What I meant was, “How does a person position their body on this abomination to use it for its designated purpose?” However, once I realized it was covered in real giraffe skin and adorned with real African buffalo horns, the question gained a second meaning. More like, “How the fuck do you sit in that without crying tears of guilt and shame that you’re sitting on two very cool, very dead animals?” But hey, everyone has that one friend who would gladly spend the equivalent of two years’ education at an Ivy League school to sit uncomfortably on top of a chair with an actual giraffe’s tail dangling from it.

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