The last of the chairs were moved in Monday to their new home in Memorial Lounge in the Waterman Building. But these are no ordinary chairs. They are all hand made, each from 41 individual pieces of Vermont wood.
"UVM really wanted to have a Vermont company and wanted to use Vermont cherry. Both things were really tricky because there was nobody currently making stacking chairs like this in Vermont, so that is how it started," said Brent Karner with Clear Lake Furniture in Ludlow.
But Karner and his crew were up for the challenge. Create a stacking chair, from local wood that would carry a 20 year guarantee.
Reporter Judy Simpson: So what makes these chairs different?
Brent Karner: Well, apart from the fact that they stack, they are also very comfortable. The shape -- the lumbar support in the back, I am sure you can feel it now -- and the arch of the back are both pretty difficult things to do but they make the chair a lot more comfortable.
But they also have to be durable, withstanding the wear and tear of students and faculty. Karner came up with the idea to use dovetail joints. And then there is the upholstery, done by Don Heaton in Chester. Because the chairs will be stacked, he insisted on making sure all the chairs matched.
"So you have this yellowish leaf here, here and here -- it always lines up perfect and it's a little thing but those are the important things, I think, that go into a custom piece of furnIture. It's more than just a working tool, it's a working piece of art," Karner said.
Of course all these details come at a cost. Each of the 150 chairs cost more than $600
Reporter Judy Simpson: Some people may question the cost, what do you say about that?
UVM Vice President of Finance Richard Cate: I think as with everything, you can buy quality and have it last a long time, or you can buy something less expensive and watch it deteriorate a lot faster... This institution, we hope, will be here for another 221 years and I would like the chairs to be representative of the good work of Vermont for a very long time.
Reporter Judy Simpson: You get what you pay for?
Richard Cate: Always.
The old Memorial Lounge chairs were purchased in the early 1980's. They will be put in storage for use or sale at another time. Now the Clear Lake stacking chairs will be the stars of this hall.
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