Bodleian Libraries' Chair Design Competition

Back in September 2012, a UK-wide competition was launched to design a new chair for University of Oxford's historic Bodleian Libraries. After receiving over 60 entries, six award-winning designer/manufacturer partnerships are currently in the running to proceed to the next stage of the competition, with the goal of winning the title prize.

The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford is the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. The Bodleian—the University's principal library—has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years and along with other major research libraries, libraries attached to faculties, departments, and other insitutions of the Univeristy, contains more than 11 million printed items, in addition to 50,000 e-journals and vast quantities of materials in other formats.

After the first submission of initial designs, up to three partnerships will be chosen in June to proceed to the next stage and create a working prototype to be judged in September. The winning design will proceed to production and installation in the new Weston Library in Autumn 2014.

The competition judges include: Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian; Richard Ovenden, Deputy to Bodley’s Librarian; Professor Martin Roth, Director of the V&A; Sir Kenneth Grange CBE, leading industrial designer; Jeremy Myerson, Director and Professor of Design at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design; Tom Dyckhoff, architecture and design critic, author and Culture Show host; Jim Eyre of Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Professor Elizabeth Leach, Faculty of Music, University of Oxford.

Following in the footsteps of the 1756 Curator's Chair—one of the earliest custom-made chairs for the Libraries—the winning chair design is sure to be an iconic contemporary statement in the refurbushment of the Weston Library, part of the Bodelian Libraries, which is set to open its doors in Autumn 2014. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s, the building is currently being remodelled by Wilkinson Eyre Architects to create a state-of-the-art facility for this world-renowned library, increasing storage capabilities, public access, and highly improved facitilies for readers.

As V&A director and member of the judging panel Martin Roth said, "This chair will be the chair of chairs, for the library of libraries."

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