ETCETERA / Design Dinosaurs: 5. The Deck Chair
Sunday 27 February 1994
Who invented the improved version is uncertain. Some say it was an Englishman named Atkins, who, some time in the 19th Century, had the idea of slinging a cotton canvas sailor's hammock over its own lightweight, collapsible frame. But this doesn't quite accord with that suggested by the first known advertisement, in 1882: for 'The Yankee Hammock Chair'. This 'Novel and Ornamental' piece of furniture, 'combining SOFA, LOUNGE, EASY-CHAIR, COUCH and BED for LIBRARY, DINING ROOM, DRAWING ROOM, BED- CHAMBER, or BOUDOIR' was, the copy maintained, by its 'strength and portability' rendered 'practical for the LAWN, SEA BEACH, SHIP'S DECK or CAMP'. It weighed 8lbs, cost 17s 6d and 'folded into the compass of a Butler's Tray'.
By 1884, the term 'deck' chair was still sufficiently unfamiliar to merit inverted commas in the writing of E. Nesbit. By 1890, passengers booking voyages on P & O liners were being advised to bring their own.
The deck chair is the accessory of a sea- faring, island nation; the icon of a bygone age. The canvas seat becomes a screen for shadow-play one minute, a billowing spinnaker the next; the frame pinches fingers as classlessly as it does painfully. The design has never changed (except for the addition of arms on later luxury models) because it is unimprovable. Wood and canvas stand up well to the damp and salt of a sea-side winter. Its decline (the few now sold each summer are imported, mainly from Poland and Czechoslovakia) is due not to deficiencies, but to the rumbling of the myth of the British summer - and to the charter flights laid on to escape it. Moulded plastic sun loungers have the incalculable competitive advantage of lying beneath real sun.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
- 2 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 3 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Pixie Geldof signs recording deal with Stranger Records
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners