Windsor Chair: The Birth of the Thos. Moser Continuous Arm Chair
Even before founding his own company, Tom Moser had a love for furniture and was drawn to fine antiques. Through a process of discovery and exploration he learned to scribe dovetails by reading old tool marks on the inside of drawers, to create lasting through tenons by examining ones that had failed, and to understand the unique characteristics of each hardwood species. By studying the mastery of past designs, he developed a deep understanding and appreciation for the inner architecture of the pieces made by craftsmen before him.
A STUDENT OF HISTORY
Studying and refurbishing these antiques of early New England soon gave way to creating his own reproductions, and soon after that, Tom began to achieve an identity and style that was uniquely his own. In 1977, Thos. Moser sold its first Windsor style chair: the Thos. Moser Continuous Arm Chair. Today, this chair serves as an icon synonymous with the Moser name.
Photo: Tom works to perfect an early version of this iconic chair.
The chairs we know as ‘Windsor’ originated in England at the beginning of the 18th century. Often used as outdoor furniture, they were traditionally painted green to blend into the landscape. These early Windsor chairs found their way to America, where the design evolved over several decades until the American Windsor chair became its own distinct form. The style is often associated with America’s founding fathers, and enjoyed popularity well into the 19th century.
Photo: early Windsor chairs were traditionally painted green. (CC by 2.0)
Bringing Back a Classic
By the 1970’s the Windsor style had fallen out of favor. But Tom saw a timeless grace that transcended style or fad. Taking several years to perfect, the Continuous Arm Chair demonstrates our enduring commitment to functionally driven objects, ornament-free simplicity and the celebration of traditional materials and woodworking techniques – all with an emphasis on craftsmanship.
An Early Prototype
Forming the Arm
Making of a Moser Icon
Although derived from the traditional Windsor chair, the Continuous Arm Chair offers its own interpretation including the continuous arm for which it gets its name, the absence of conventional stretchers, and the contrasting ash spindles. To form the continuous arm, eleven knife-cut slices of the same board just one-tenth of an inch thick are laminated together and molded into a curve. Then each continuous arm is painstakingly rasped, filed and sanded to a perfect smoothness. The legs of the chair are free of stretchers, instead gaining their strength from curved braces called ship’s knees. These supportive yet elegant braces create the distinct light and airy profile that the Thos. Moser Continuous Arm Chair is famous for.
Seat & Spindles
A Beautiful Contrast
Ash is used for the legs and spindles because it provides ample strength and comfortable flexibility for the sitter. The contrast of light ash against a cherry or walnut seat base provides a distinctive beauty that derives from the marriage of form and function.
Photo: the walnut hardwood seat and arm contrast beautifully with the ash legs and spindles.
The Continuous Arm Chair embodies what so many people find endearing in Windsor: the adherence to principles of minimalism. There is a grace and musicality to the Continuous Arm Chair. There are no heavy lines, boxy cases or overwrought flourishes – only fluid lines and curves, and an economy of material. Nothing is superfluous, and everything exists in a state of balance. Among all variations of the Windsor chair, we believe The Thos. Moser Continuous Arm Chair epitomizes what Plato termed ultimate ‘chairness’ – an ideal where form and function are inseparable. It is the closest thing to sculpture that we can sit in, and yet it is also entirely utilitarian.
Photo: ebonized ash cuts a striking profile.
A Feast for the Senses
Experiencing the Continuous Arm Chair really requires all the senses. The eye doesn’t so much see the Continuous Arm Chair, as dance across it. First your eyes fall upon it. Then you are drawn to run your hand across the perfect curve of the back. And then you sit, and your body is both enfolded, and transported. The elemental smell of the wood, the creak of the chair as it sighs and breathes, the glow of the finish in changing light – the chair casts a spell difficult to resist. And since Tom Moser first introduced the Continuous Arm Chair some four decades ago, it has consistently remained a customer favorite.
Photo: hand-polished wood engages the senses.
The introduction of the Continuous Arm Chair was a milestone. But for developing Thos. Moser’s own distinctive style, it was only the beginning. Next week, we explore some giants of the design world and how they influenced the evolution of Thos. Moser’s unique style.
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