Upholstery Dreamin’

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

        So, after going to Denmark for the summer I absolutely worship at the alter of Verner Panton (possibly more than any other Danish designer - which is saying something). His chairs are amazing; you might recognize the famous S-chair (which can been seen in the atrium at the UM Ross School of Business). 

        That being said, I had the ultimate find at the Ann Arbor Reuse Center a month or so ago when I found an original Panton Cone Chair for the amazingly low price of $3 (paid entirely in change from my pocket). Quite the find considering a new Panton cone chair will set you back well over a thousand dollars. 



        Since the first day of IP when we were running through initial concepts for projects, I had wanted to try out some upholstery. It was suggested to me by the very smart (and I later found out, very patient), graduate student John Gutoskey that I find a chair to rip apart to the bare bones to start to learn about the techniques necessary.

        Like any good art & design student with skill envy, I asked John to help me with the process of taking apart and recovering the Panton chair. With many, many years of costume and hat design to his name (and that’s putting his depth of skill lightly) – he was the right man to ask. The cone chair ended up being a perfect practice piece due to the fact that it required several complex curves and complete replacement of the foam and batting elements (the originals where nearly petrified).

        The process was a little daunting but the end product was great. The fabric is a QR code jacquard woven stiched double cloth that I chose to contrast the 1958 circular construction. I also felt that the QR pattern played to Mod feel with a very modern technological reference, exactly the type of cheeky contrast that I like to make.

Naked cone chair with original foam still intact. 

Process of scraping out the deteriorated foam and cleaning the metal cone structure. 

The QR code fabric (no it doesnt actually scan... I asked.... and tried.... but that would have been cool) 

The flat peices after being taken from the chair, ready to be transfered to a paper pattern to cut out of the new fabric. 

John helping to line up and center the fabric before cutting out the pattern. 

Paper patterns being laid out on the new fabric. Pieces were arranged so that each piece after being sewed would have a continuous pattern. 

Learning to sew and use a fell stitch (sort of like on the seaming of jeans) to give the seam a directionality by pressing it with an iron and restitching along the original seam to create a faux-piping look and better structure. 

What a fell stich lookes like. 

Taping off all parts of the chair that would not be getting upholstery glue. 

Replacing deteriorated foam with a new piece of 1'' high-density foam for the back of the seat. 

Lining up the new foam and cursing a lot at the evils of upholstery glue. 

Doing an inital fit with the new foam replacements.

Old foam on the seat. 

Sewing a circle and long strip to cover the seat cushion of the cone chair (all seams were also felled) 

Stapling the new cover over a new piece of 2" high density foam and original wooden circle of the seat. 

Nearly done with the back of the chair over the structure and the seat in place. 

More awkward modelling of furniture....


Huge thanks to John (and many others for remedying a little bit of my sewing ignorance.)