Raina Wellman



Hannah Bartlett, who studied furniture design at RISD, originally proposed the idea for “The Chair Show” on her own, and asked me to join in to help with exhibition design, promotion, and some curation after the initial proposal stage.

It was a fun project, and a real gift to be able to play with and consider chairs in new ways. This show allowed us to think about and present chairs in a multi-faceted way.

Postcards I made for
the Chair Show (front & back)

The artists and designers making chairs at RISD are thinking about functionality, process, meaning, and beauty. They're also responding to a long history of creating with a varied mix of rejection and homage.
The interdisciplinary nature of the show is meant to break down and stretch departmental barriers and to answer the complicated question, "What is a chair?" We only had one strict rule, a chair needs a back... No stools were allowed in the show.

I was in charge of the graphic design within the exhibition as well as the promotional material. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice exhibition design and to work on branding and promoting a real event. It was incredibly gratifying to see all of our hard work manifest into something real and concrete that many people have enjoyed visiting.

I had a lot of fun putting extra effort into the smaller details of the show, like the murals and hidden vinyl chairs, I think that really helped to further elevate the show and even to provide context into the greater history of chair making.

For the vinyl decorative elements, which can be seen in the gallery as well as in the front hall and on the wall text, I created graphics based on important historic chairs as well as the chairs on display in the exhibition, in a way allowing them to have a conversation with each other.

The posters and overall brand for the Chair Show is made up of 100 chair icons I created on Adobe Illustrator. The chair icons were based on chairs that were submitted to the show, iconic chairs from history, recognizable commonplace chairs, and other found chairs. This chair collection was then morphed and also vinyl cut to create the Chair Show brand identity.

After completing the brand identity,
I uploaded my chair icon collection to the Noun Project. You can view and download them here.