This week’s blog post cover image is by the brilliant ©Jessica Brilli
“A chair is for sitting on,” writes Karl Ove Knausgaard, but when emblazoned on the following book covers, they do so much more.
Why have so many designers, publishers, and authors opted for a piece of furniture on their book covers? Unoccupied furniture can sometimes feel lonely, particularly when it’s an object that we associate with a specific person. Rather than being “just a part of the room,” a chair or stool might become a symbol of an absent individual. In such instances, a simple chair takes on new significance and is laden with memories, emotions, and longing.
Certain types of chairs bring out different emotions in all of us. Adirondack chairs and rocking chairs evoke a sense of relaxation, while an electric chair brings with it a sense of doom. Kings have thrones, therapists have chaises, and children have musical chairs. In AA meetings, chairs are arranged in a circle, as shown on some of the covers below.
More on chairs from my favorite author:
“The chair is related to the bench and the sofa, which are also for sitting on, yet is still radically separate from them, for the chair is for one person, and one person only, which is an essential aspect of its character. The chair isolates us, it is like a little island in the room, to which no one else has access as long as someone is in possession of it. In other words, the chair always has an element of reserve about it, even though in principle it is open to anyone.”Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Winter,” Penguin Press, 2015
Beds are used on book covers for similar reasons. A bed can feel like a warm sanctuary, as described by Knausgaard below, or it might remind a reader of romantic entanglements and sex.
A bed is a handy, PG-rated, visual cue that can be used to symbolize what happens atop it.
More on beds from Knausgaard:
“The bed is placed in the bedroom, which is often the inner-most room in the house or apartment, and in two-storey houses the bedroom is usually on the upper floor. This is so because we are never as vulnerable as when we are asleep, we lie defenceless in our beds at night without knowing what is going on around us, and to withdraw from sight at such a time, to conceal ourselves from other animals and human beings, is an instinct that runs deep in us.”Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Autumn,” Penguin Press, 2017
*If you are able to provide missing design credits, or if you can think of other covers that feature furniture (tables?!), please write me at email@example.com.
Bonus: In 2006, Esther Perel’s publisher goes quite literal with her cover by using a couple in bed on a book about marriage. In 2017, they get a bit more creative and that bed becomes a matchbox. Fun!
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