July 15, 2011

The Chairs

On a cold winter day, several years ago, I bought two unusual wooden chairs at one of my favourite antique markets. I didn’t buy them for my own enjoyment, but as a gift for someone else. A couple that we know was about to celebrate their anniversary. Their life together has been quite successful. Throughout the years, they became more and more alike – in their manners and preferences, and even in their appearance. When I saw those chairs, I realized that I had found a perfect gift. The two were practically identical. The only difference was in the etching on the backs of the chairs – one had the shape of the sun, and the other of the moon. Our friends, for all their resemblance, were just like the moon and the sun as far as their overall perception of life.

When the chairs were brought to our apartment, I couldn’t stop gazing at them. The decorative elements were so intricate, clearly fashioned by an experienced craftsman; they covered the arms and legs of the chairs. The design was so enchanting. I couldn’t help but wonder, who would possibly wish to sell such things?

In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a strange and persistent sound. It seemed as though someone was scratching or gnawing nearby. Following a brief investigation of these spooky circumstances, it turned out that the source of the sound were the chairs. The chairs had noises. There was some strange activity going on inside them. My overactive imagination even conjured the sound of snorting and a familiar melody being hummed.

The next day, a specialist counseled us to leave the chairs outside in the freezing weather. There they stood for the whole day. The frost was quite brutal that time. I was filled with hope that I might be able to deliver these gifts yet – but without the wood-munching insects that dwelled within.

When the chairs returned into the apartment, the bugs showed no signs of life for a whole other day. And then they rose from the dead and resumed their activity.

The specialist said “These are some good chairs. The bugs know their stuff – they love some fine quality wood. They’re not going to eat furniture from Ikea. I suggest that you burn these chairs, so that nobody else brings them to their house.”

What a comfort. Thank you very much for that.

For the longest time after that incident, I was haunted by existential questions. Just think – somebody created this marvelous work of art. And then, some little bug, who could just as well eat something less valuable and not even know the difference, went ahead and ruined the magic.

I really enjoy chairs and tables. Especially the ones that have a happy history. I think they should be used for a long time, and used lovingly. Old chairs and tables know so much, and they can even tell if you know how to ask.

Happy weekend!


  1. what a thought-provoking piece! i love the etched table in the fourth-to-last photo. (hope you are feeling better...)

  2. Wonderful, thoughtful story Olga. Lovely perspective.

  3. I love all these photos they are fantastic. Did you really burn the chairs? There must be some sort of treatment that you can do :-( Diane

  4. Hello Olga:
    Oh, how really tantalising. We cannot believe that we were left without knowing the fate of the chairs! But what a beautifully woven story, a complete narrative, and although we long to know the outcome, it is all the better for its finishing at the point at which it does for then we, the readers, must use our imaginations to draw a conclusion. Wonderful, Olga!

    And what a splendid way of introducing the picture theme of chairs and seats in general. The little wooden step-stool is perfect!

  5. Hi Leslie,
    Thank you. The etched table in the last photo is from the Spanish cafe in Toronto. I feel better, but it's my daughter's turn now :(

    Hi Laura Delegal,
    Thank you. The story is really special :)

    Hi Diane,
    Yes, I burned them. I felt responsible. Those bugs can be pretty nasty. They can eat a whole house. Seriously.

    Hi Jane and Lance Hattatt,
    Secret and confidential - YES I BURNED THE CHAIRS! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It wasn't an ordinary thing...please don't think this sort of thing happens every day.

  6. Wao!, this series is wonderful Olga. Their design and your angles worked with one another.

  7. I like your photos Olga =)


  8. People do not even realize what options chairs. A common subject of each day and how it's interesting to your photos. Thank you for your nice comments my friend from blog.

  9. My heart started pounding..I thought they were evil chairs (ghosts)!! hahah..Then I continued reading! Sigh. Once, I bought a desk from a thrift store. So beautiful..Days later, I had bed bugs in my house! So annoying..We cleaned everything out, and fumigated. I still have the desk :)
    Olga, thank you so much for the kind words! :)


  10. Lovely series of chairs. I like those little ones, a lot.
    I prefer wooden chairs, that look comfortable and are comfortable.
    (without the bugs.)
    Nice post.

  11. What a beautiful story! The ones I use in my kitchen are old, solid wood, and painted a happy yellow!

  12. Ooh, I so hoped you could give them to the couple. They sounded like such a unique n' special gift~
    I would of left them outside; I couldn't burn them...
    What an enchanting story; thanks for sharing and for stopping by my blog! You made my day~

  13. The contrast between the denim and the chairs is wonderful.

  14. I just love the angles and composition. We have Rentokil here for eradicating woodworm.

  15. Olga, you have made the simplest things look wonderful today ! Thanks for a lesson in photography !

  16. The chair story made me laugh even though it was sad. It reminds me of my granddtr, who has a recent preoccupation with bugs and places they should not be. Best not tell her about this one! Enjoyed the pics.

  17. Mahtava *Tuoli-Projekti*.
    Olet käsitellyt aihetta taitajan ottein.
    Värit/compositiot kuvissa hienosti toteutettu.
    Katselin mielenkiinnolla...!
    Tervehtien Eko

  18. да, и повторюсь тут с одним одним комментатором - прекрасный урок по композиции!

  19. (первое сообщение не запостилось - повторю)
    Оля, какая прекрасная идея про парные стулья! Да еще живые! Великолепный подарок со смыслом. Стулья ведь, они почти как люди! :)

  20. What a marvelous story, and marvelously told! You had me on "the edge of my seat" wondering about the curse of the chairs. I feel sad that they came to such a sad ending. No self-respecting, artfully carved chair should ever have a bug infestation, and, in fact, I never even thought of such an occurrence and now feel myself lucky because I have brought home quite a few antique wood chairs in past years!

    Lovely set of photos. I am enchanted by the chunky, curved seating in the public setting (fifth from the bottom). Love those lots.

  21. That is an amazing story - such a bummer that those little bugs attacked those chairs because your idea was perfect.

  22. Lovely pictures! all those colors create such a beautiful atmosphere!

  23. I wondered what you did with the chairs until I read in your comments that you burned them, what a shame. I'm glad you are feeling better. Have a lovely weekend.

  24. I enjoyed all your beautiful photos – you do have an eye for the artistic approach to setting your photos. I feel sorry for the chairs but yours was a great idea for a present.

  25. Special post! Thank you!
    Have a great Sunday.
    Warm hug.

  26. Как интересно, необычно и просто красиво!
    Ольга, вот стулья на фотографиях...Любой другой человек прошел бы мимо, а вас что-то остановило. Что зацепило ваш взгляд? До щелчка Вы представляете как выйдет фотография?

    Можно не по теме.. Ваш английский -безупречный! Как и где вы его учили?

  27. What a happyness to sit down in your blog, listening to your speaking chairs!

  28. Я тоже люблю стулья, особенно стулья Люксембургского сада :) Ольга, спасибо за рассказ!

  29. I too love old charis and have quite an odd assortment from fleamarkets and second hand shops. Your story is amazing... as I read on and looked at each photograph for a sun and moon my heart had a sinking feeling and I was dying to know whether you burnt the chairs. I saw in your comments above that indeed you did. What a pity... I am sure they could have been saved. We had the same sound in our house... the munching of the termites could be heard in the floorboards and walls... luckily our experts did not recommend to burn it down;-) Love your photos and story!:-) xoxo

  30. Such a lovely story dear Olga and such a shame that these 'wood munching insects' decided to take up residence in these two beautiful and lovingly chosen chairs for your friends.
    I love old tables and chairs and they can tell you a lot about their past, I also love old windows and doors, they too have a special charm.
    You have some wonderful photos here, the wrought iron chairs (last picture) and the etched table are especially lovely.
    Have a happy week.
    xoxoxo ♡

  31. this is fantastic, I rather like the idea of chairs with stories to tell :)

  32. Very nice chairs,
    is a pleasure to go through your house Olga.
    you have a nice week.
    a hug.

  33. Hello! Very interesting post...I liked Your photos,too.

  34. I had to come back to comment once again as I was thinking that there is seemingly are endless possibilities when it comes to making something you can sit on! Quite remarkable. The loss of the chairs was quite sad.

  35. Интересная история про жуков. Я не предполагала, что такое бывает. Представляю себе эти звуки ночью!
    Жаль красивые стулья, но раз не было другого способа - что делать!
    Больше всего понравилась последняя композиция.

  36. I agree with your sentiments about chairs and love this post, Olga. How sad that you had to burn the chairs. My daughter, through collecting old chairs and such, has turned herself into something of a woodworm sepcialist and has saved her 'finds'.

    Should you come across more bug ridden chairs, I will ask her to send you advice. Meanwhils, thank you for sharing your chairs.

  37. I see from previous comments that you actually had to burn the chairs. I always thought woodworm could be treated without such drastic action how terribly sad.

  38. Hi Jorge,
    I'm glad you noticed the different angles in my photos. I've known this trick for a long time :)

    Hi Sérgio,
    Thank you for your comment :)

    Hi Peter,
    I am deeply convinced that we ought to look at ordinary objects with a fresh point of view, and discover new things about them. I hope your renovation is going successfully.

    Hi tywo,
    These kinds of stories involving dangerous bugs really make me ill at ease. I'm glad your case wasn't as detrimental.

    Hi Rick,
    I regret not buying those two chairs. They are so wonderful.

  39. Hi floweringmama,
    I'm still thinking of your canned goods :) I just love these kinds of things.

    Hi Ella,
    These unexpected stories just happen in life. You can't insure against them :)

    Hi R. Jacob,
    This is my denim jacket. Consider it showing off :)

    Hi Adrian,
    Thank you for your tip about Rentokil. I have never heard of it.

    Hi Wong,
    Thank you. Likewise, I learn a lot from your blog.

  40. Hi Pierre,
    Thank you very much. Glad that you visited from France :)

    Hi 1-2Punch,
    I will keep it a secret :) I deeply understand this preoccupation with bugs.

    Hi Eko,
    Olen iloinen, nauttinut viestiini. Se olisi voinut olla tylsää. Mutta koska olen todella rakastan tuolit kävi viihdyttävä.

    Hi Ирен,
    Это точно,стулья как люди. И к тому же ещё и стареют и жалуются, и живут долгую или не долгую жизнь. Вообще, они очень интересные объекты для исследования:)

    Hi Lydia,
    Thank you for choosing favourites among my photos. Since I know several antique dealers, I realize that it's a matter of luck to buy old wooden crafts without bugs. So, you should consider yourself really lucky.

  41. Hi tinajo,
    *sigh* Perfect gifts are not the easiest things to find.

    Hi Mikko,
    Thank you for your comment. When I look at those photos, I remember the circumstances that I took them under.

    Hi lilylovekin,
    I didn't want to wake up from a nightmare, thinking that those chairs are standing in someone's house.

    Hi Vagabonde,
    I think that furniture is one of the most interesting topics. Furniture can live with different people, and take on a life of its own. There are so many ideas.

    Hi teca,
    I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I also enjoy reading your blog very much, although I have to use Google Translate for it :)

    Hi once in a blue moon,
    Thank you very much.

    Hi kopeechki,
    Большую часть информации об этой жизни я воспринимаю и переабатываю визуально. Так что для меня картинка складывается задолго до того как я её увижу в реальной жизни. Потом она каким-то образом материализуется:)
    Английский всё ещё учу и буду делать это всё жизнь. К сожалению, я не тот человек. которому языки даются легко.
    Я заглянуда в ваш журнал. Он произвёл на меня впечатление. Но в нём есть определённая интимность. Можно ли мне в нём оставлять своё мнение и, вообще, можно ли его читать?

  42. Hi orfeenix,
    I actually have dozens of stories concerning chairs. I just love them. I'm glad you also enjoyed it.

    Hi patatinka,
    Я обожаю стулья В Люксембургском саду. Вот уж кто повидал в этой жизни! Спасибо за визит и коммент!

    Hi Monika,
    I'm glad that your specialist turned out to be less extreme than mine :) I feel like there are different kinds of bugs that eat wood - some more detrimental than others. The one I refer to in my post was very quick. This kind is highly resistant to attempts to kill it. You can only exterminate it by exterminating the "queen". But how? By sawing the chair in half?

    Hi Dianne,
    It's true - old wooden crafts have a special charm. I am still sighing concerning one table I saw ten years ago, but could not buy, because it was too expensive :)

    Hi hila,
    Isn't it true that, when you visit old French castles, and see old chairs, you think that some historical figure could have sat on them, and most likely did.

    Hi Ricardo,
    I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I hope you don't find it too eccentric :)

  43. Hi Amin,
    I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for visiting.

    Hi R. Jacob,
    Just in that period of time, there wasn't enough drama in my life, so it had to find me sometime :)

    Hi tattina,
    Эти жуки съедали дома в русских деревнях. Крыша падала и падали стены. Но я эти стулья были из Африки. Значит и там эти лакомки существуют. Слышала такие же истории про Индийские деревянные изделия.

    Hi aguja,
    It would have been wonderful if you shared your finds or your daughter's finds in your blog. I still can't forget your birds :)

    Hi Lindy,
    I know that there are several varieties of these creatures. Unfortunately, mine were the most terrible.

  44. Your posts always have a way of making me see things that were formerly invisible, like chairs. :)

  45. Like everyone else...great story and photos! This story sparked a memory... of an old friend's table and chairs-they had full of history.

  46. that is such a sad story about the chairs :(

  47. It's so sad that the chairs could not be treated... I just can't think of having to burn precious objects...

    And your photos! I love them!! The etched table... GORGEOUS!!

    Have a great week, Olga! XXX

  48. What a thoughtful piece. I too love chairs. Next time you are in Paris, visit the chair gallery in the Musee des Arts Decoratif. You will love it!

  49. Oh, that your stories got such a magic spell!
    I've felt so sorry for the poor chairs. You've brought them to life, and then kill them too.
    All your stories have got that magic. Keep writing things please.

  50. I love your stories Olga. They are like Russian fairy tales; I reread and reread them and save my favourites as Bookmarks for easy reference :) Your illustrations perfectly accompany the tale X

  51. I thought the chairs were haunted too! Such a shame they had to be burned, but living proof that truth can be a lot stranger then fiction. Where the couple happy with the present you did give them in the end? This post really made me think and was so well written. Loved the photos as well. x

  52. Hi Lydia,
    When chairs are good, we take them for granted. When they're bad, we know it immediately :)

    Hi Sandy,
    I think that memories can only be about old furniture. Where you can trace the years you lived.

    Hi Krystal,
    It's always sad when something beautiful is destroyed :(

    Hi Lena,
    Thank you. I know that you have a special relationship with furniture as a designer. I have a suspicion that you would never burn anything.

    Hi Ingrid,
    Thank you the tip about the museum. The last time I was in Musee D'Orsay, they had phenomenal furniture on display. We were there with a friend who could barely be dragged out :)

  53. Hi Pet,
    Thank you. The magic comes from the heart :)

    Hi Dolly,
    Everything is straight from real life. I haven't even gotten started on the fairy tales :)

    Hi Happy Frog and I,
    My whole experience tells me that life is much stranger than anything you could imagine. Sometimes I even tell my daughter or my husband - "If you tell someone what just happened, they won't believe it." Instead of chairs, I gave them some fancy picture frames.

  54. Love your exploration of chairs and what a great idea for a gift! Your story is hilarious, did you burn them?

  55. Precioso reportaje y encantadora historia, Olga!!!

    Buen trabajo!!!

    Un gran abrazo!!! ;)

  56. Ольга, конечно можно читать и если есть желание оставлять комментарии, иначе я б поставила под замок. Я пытаюсь не переходить границы приличия, так что если что-то чувствуется интимным, это так я разговариваю со своей мамулей.

    Ола, немного не поняла, вот со стульями , например. Вы думали снимать стулья и потом глаз сам замечает ( как если ты голодный, ты видишь только рестораны:))), или вы просто шли и "увидели" , что в таком ракурсе тсулья будут выглядеть очень необычно и трогательно?

  57. Darling, I hope your week is going well.


  58. Hi T. Becque,
    Welcome to my blog. Naturally, I was obliged to burn them. I didn't want to have nightmares about someone else getting those bugs, and them devouring the whole house.

    Hi Ignacio,
    Me alegra que te haya gustado mi historia. A pesar de que tiene un final triste. Usted puede tomar algunas conclusiones del mismo:)

    Hi kopeechki,
    Итак о стульях. Сначала мне пришла в голову идея как бы я сфоторграфировала стулья.
    Мне очень хотелось, чтобы был интересный свет, ракурс или композиция. Тоесть, я не стремилась найти интересный дизайнерский стул. Не хотела, чтобы на его форму отвлеклось внимание. Как только в моей голове эта идея оформилась окончательно, стулья стали попадаться. Все эти фото я сделала за два месяца этого года - май и июнь. Всё просто.

    Hi tywo,
    My week is going really well. It's busy and crazy :) I hope your summer is fantastic.

  59. Спасибо)))
    каждый раз читаю вас, сразу вспоминается как дети( одноклассники моего сына) шутили над своим учителем:
    --Dr. X, where are from?
    -I'm from Canada.
    -O, so you Canadan?
    -No, I'm Canadian.
    -Then, sir, you are from Canadia))))))

  60. Very true Olga, very true. Good choice with the second gift idea, very thoughtful. x

  61. Hi kopeechki,
    Как они могли так непочтительно с учителем :)
    Я, действительно, всё объяснила хорошо?

    Hi Happy Frog and I,
    Thank you. Was Happy Frog by any chance all covered in lipstick kisses at the end of Dolly's party?

  62. да, да объяснили очень хорошо, я так и предпологала:)))
    с учителем-он преподавал историю и латынь, учитель от бога, так что такие шутки полны любви. шутка застряла на все 4 года))))

  63. A very interesting collection

  64. Hi AB,
    Thanks for stopping by:)