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Friday, June 9 • 9:30am - 11:00am
What Should be Next for the Chandigarh Chairs?

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Constructed as a new capital for the post-partition Indian Punjab, the city of Chandigarh is known for its Le Corbusier designed city plan and Capitol Complex. Recently, Chandigarh’s fame has also extended to the modernist furniture produced for the city’s municipal buildings, courthouse, colleges and a select few private homes. Today these pieces are sold as the exclusive work of Swiss/French designer Pierre Jeanneret, and can be found taking top billing at the world’s premier auction houses, in the collections of at least three museums on two continents, and as decor in the homes of the rich and famous.

Despite the seemingly liberal approach to these objects taken by many popular authors, dealers, collectors and commentators, the overarching popular narrative and understanding of Chandigarh Chairs remains firmly rooted in neo-colonial attitudes. As pieces of Chandigarh’s furniture has been removed from India, refurbished and re-sold at auction these now-iconic objects have been transformed from Chandigarh chairs to “Jeanneret Chairs”, from utilitarian furniture to pieces of high design, and from embodiments of Indian design to items residing solidly in the European modernist design canon.

The Chandigarh Chairs research project has been documenting the construction of this elitist, colonial narrative over the past two years, tracking the trajectory and sale of individual pieces of furniture at auction, and observing first hand the current state of the furniture within the city of Chandigarh itself.

Instead of dwelling exclusively in the errors of the past, this panel turns its attention toward the future; toward a manifold array of possibilities for treatment and understanding of Chandigarh’s modernist furniture moving forward.

From local issues of use, access, and repair to international issues of movement, sale, and repatriation, this panel seeks to present a robust and all-encompassing array of viewpoints as to what the future of Chandigarh Chairs will and should be.


Petra Seitz

PhD Candidate, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Gregor Wittrick

British Museum

Nia Thandapani

Independent Designer

Vikramāditya Prakāsh

Professor of Architecture, University of Washington

Christopher Wilk

Keeper of Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion, Victoria & Albert Museum

Ravi Sandhu

Architect, Studio Delineate

Friday June 9, 2023 9:30am - 11:00am EDT
PS 406 (Design Center)