Prairie Chair by Von Tundra


American designers Von Tundra have created an oak dining chair with a raw maple seat and backrest.

Called Prairie Chair, it's constructed using pegged T halving joints where the rails sit inside notches cut in the legs.

The project draws on vernacular furniture from the American Midwest.

Here's some more information from the designers:


The Prairie Chair is inspired by a blend of reductive modernism and the tradition of farmer-made chairs across the American Midwest. Carefully considered proportions and no-frills construction contribute to the chair's refined take on simplicity.

Von Tundra is a Portland-based design house specializing in the creation of contemporary furniture, fixtures, installations, and interiors. Since the group’s founding in 2007 its three members have honed an aesthetic vision that unites Modernism’s efficient lines with the warmth of familiar materials and handcrafted integrity.

As both a licensed company and artist collaborative, Von Tundra has the ability to engage a variety of creative activities, from client-inspired projects to conceptually focused gallery exhibitions.

Posted on Wednesday February 3rd 2010 at 10:13 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • J*

    A new chair!! AMAZING!! in WOOD!! waooo! If I had thought of this earlier, it could have been me!!

  • Murve

    Nice finishing on the joints very smart but I would have like to see a more stylised design. Its just a chair. Bored now.

  • gerrit

    is it that hard to make something well proportioned that is comfortable?
    this chair will wreck your spine
    perfect for hip coffee places with more customers than seats..good for the customer flow.
    nice joints btw

  • geronimo

    I am sorry, but I am not impressed at all….

  • portionspread

    ok for this to truely work it should never be pictured on a design blog. I should never notice it. never question it. as if it never existed. get me?

  • f.stachio

    smart. simple is difficult to pull off. I agree, though, it doesn’t appear particularly comfortable.

  • eye+

    dezeen, you’re wasting my clicks

  • ataxia

    So far the comments about the joints are a little confusing.

    “it’s constructed using pegged T halving joints where the rails sit inside notches cut in the legs.”

    followed by some complements in the comments…. they are half lap joints, one of the easiest and fastest joints to make. There is nothing impressive or inspiring about their usage in this chair. Not that there is anytihng wrong with using them. Sometimes design blogs are so cute.

  • Gravy

    Easily the best use of pencil on a product in the past 50 years.

    It is impossible to gauge the measure that this will have on furniture design in this new decade, and the decades that follow. That is based on the assumption that once this makes the round of our collective design consciousness that we don’t decide that there is no point in trying to design chairs evermore.

    This is the chair I’ve waited my entire life to see.

  • Minimalist

    Apparently we still aspire to live in the 11th century ? It is asthetically not pleasing, looks uncomfortable, a mix between fine craftsmanship (leg joints) and 1st grade shop class (seatback and seating surface).

    Lately it appears that more and more “designers” try to create the new ultimate and desirable seating product. Chairs are the most difficult product to design as they need to fit all body types and shapes …
    let’s spare the ergonomics for now. Why are so many folks going back to using sticks & planks to create unpleasant and badly constructed seating products that no one will really buy and/or only create short attractions at furniture shows/ show rooms or web-blogs.

    There is sadly nothing new, innovative or inspirational about this “Prairie” chair. The romans had better approaches over 2100 years ago.

  • yo

    what s up with dezeen lately?

  • Nicholas

    Simple, understated, beautifully crafted. I’d buy them.

  • Davide

    ehi Von Tundra!
    isn’t it strange? my grandpa use to have a chair e-x-a-c-t-l-y like that! he made it himself! it cost 5 bucks
    he used to sit on it in front of the house, singing, drinking a glass of home-made wine or talking to friends, just after having kicked the b**t of some dumb**s like you guys!

  • Wife says no

    Sounds like a bunch of haters in here. This is incredibly clean in it’s design and it’s craftsmanship. Would like to see more of their work. You can’t deny talent here folks. Take an honest look in your own studios before snubbing a real piece of work.

  • fromageplus

    I can’t believe what I read in the comments !
    This chair has a real elegance in its simplicity ! This is not “impressive” as “Geronimo” says, but this is honestly, humbly, and truely beautiful. Thank you VonTundra, and thank you Dezeen, you guys make me wanna move to Portland !

  • jw

    Hey Davide, I got 10 bucks here. Can you get your grandpa to make me a couple? Thanks, these chairs are fantastic.

  • Sven

    I like the ambiguity in the design. Sophisticated and naive. It’s beautiful.

  • All chairs are uncomfortable. It’s about the idea, materials, craft, and style that is being presented. Not a chair that you would sit in for more than a half hour in. Fair enough. If we are to make chairs that are comfortable they would be custom to each of us, or not exist at all.

  • fromageplus

    That’s the exact point : Sophisticated and naive.
    Thanks Sven.

  • justin

    If the joints of this simple but elegant piece are to be glorified, then let’s critique them as well.

    Good use of color change at the ends…this adds to structural legibility.

    Poor use of hardware for connecting the backrest…why didn’t they use pegs penetrating the full thickness (so that they’d be visible from the front). This thing is tectonically quiet beautiful up to the seat, at which point they tectonics are replaced with some contrived pencil scribbles.

    1/2 impressed.

  • anthony

    the joints aren’t impressive & don’t make any sense to me. the design of the joints didn’t do much to the structure, actually i think it weakens the chair.

    for the style it’s not flattering, it is not slick enough, the details are not refined. it looks like an unfinished student work for me.

  • ataxia

    @ justin

    what are you talking about? “Good use of color change at the ends.. this adds structural legibility.”

    It’s the end grain, it is always darker when applied with stain or any finish due to the very make-up of wood.

    And what would adding “pegs” that penetrate the back rest do? add structure or rigidity? no.

    and while we are critiquing the joinery… I can only assume that the dowel plugs in the half lap joints seen in the legs are there to cap screws. What really confuses me is that adding a screw in a joint like that wouldn’t serve any purpose, unless it was a purely aesthetic choice. So in a chair that appears to be celebrating simple wood working joints, and an unerstated demeanor what is with extra step? For me this confuses the intent, and takes away from whatever it is attempting to be. And why aren’t there plugs on the backrests screw holes when they are everywhere else on the chair?….

    argh, I don’t even hate the chair. I have no idea why I’m carrying on like this

  • concernedcitizen

    It IS strange how much ire this chair is causing. It’s so simple and humble. I don’t get what the problem is…

    We don’t know if it’s comfortable or not until we sit in it. In fact, if you read Galen Cranz’s book “The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body and Design”, it seems like this chair might be better for us – flat planes allow us to wiggle about and not be locked into one posture.

    Some people must be hooked on the gimick; the hollow novelty. I find it refreshing to look at something well made, that’s not trying too hard to be something new and loud, but that still has a personality.

    Ataxia, I think you must actually be a woodworker, which is nice, but I don’t see why the dowels in the half-laps must be screw caps – why can’t they just be dowels? That’s a very traditional way to finish off these joints. Before there were modern glues that would do the trick, wedged or pinned dowels added a mechanical element. The dowels are a nod to the craft, and I appreciate how they further integrate the separate pieces of the chair. I would have liked it if the seat back had them too, just for consistency and aesthetics.

    I also don’t understand why the half laps would weaken the chair – again, it’s a common and time-tested joint.

  • doug montgomery

    This is me repeating myself, but thats because it could apply to any number of designs lately, and thats a shame:

    this type of furniture or, new trend (because thats what it is), makes a virtue of ’simplicity’ at the expense of visual interest. Simplicity is being used as a convenient euphemism for banality. The absence of an discernible aesthetic makes all the designers with a lazy imagination feel better, which is why they’re so eager to promote it.

  • Graham Design

    I would sit on it

  • bruce

    I think the number of negative comments on this chair is a reflection that many of us recognise there are genuinely talented designers and woodworkers out there who are producing MUCH more beautiful and praiseworthy work than this. Honestly, this chair looks like something my neighbour whipped up in his shed. The joints are basic for even an amateur woodworker. There is nothing I see in the styling that is interesting or different. It is very simple, but that is not a virtue on its own when so much else is lacking! There is nothing technically difficult in the production. The edges look sharp. It looks decidedly uncomfortable. I'd love an explanation from the editors of this site as to WHY THIS PIECE WAS FEATURED?????????? This is not a complaint, it is a genuine request!!!!!!!!