Journal Article

American Style or Turkish Chair: The Triumph of Bodily Comfort

Gülen Çevik

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 23, issue 4, pages 367-385
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epq028
American Style or Turkish Chair: The Triumph of Bodily Comfort

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This article investigates the reciprocal influence of Ottoman Turkish and American interiors in the development of seating furniture. Seating furniture is unique because it involves a direct and physical interaction between the piece of furniture and the body, while at the same time it is part of a public space where social interactions occur. I will argue that the interactions between the Ottoman Turks and Americans are reflected in the way these traditions modified their seating furniture as they sought to mediate cultural, political and social differences between them. The concept of bodily comfort will serve as a common thread in understanding the origin of the expression ‘American style’ (Amerikan stili or Amerikan tarzı) in modern Turkish language, the ‘Turkish chairs’ in Victorian America in the late nineteenth century and the English language use of words such as sofa, ottoman and divan.

Keywords: comfort; consumerism; cultural interaction; divan; domestic space; furniture

Journal Article.  10833 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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