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A RISD store features some funky and functional seating arrangements

PROVIDENCE -- Need a chair? Everyone does. And risd works, the very cool store selling the creations of alumni and faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, is there to help. In the ever-evolving collection of works the store stocks there are currently four chairs that couldn't be more different from each other -- or from those in the current exhibition of Windsor chairs up the hill at the RISD Museum. Windsors are stern and sturdy, a British style that migrated to the States. The steel chair at risd works by Anne-Marie Midy (class of `94, graphic design) is pure frivolity in form and practicality in function. The steel is curved into a drawing in space, following the outline of an 18th-century French fauteuil. It's graceful but goofy, the metal warmed with copper-colored floral upholstery by Mark Pollack ('76, textiles). At $800 it's the most expensive of the available quartet -- but cheap for a piece of sculpture, which it also is.

The Yolanda Chair of molded hardwood plywood covered with a bamboo veneer is fluid and pale, as close as a chair can come to a waterfall. Designed by Gerard Minakawa ('97, industrial design), it's a soft gold, and you can see the little horizontals of the bamboo stems. It's $450 (a steal).

The Catalano Stool by Carol Catalano ('80, industrial design) is an ingenious, two-part affair that easily comes apart for moving or storing. To assemble it, you merely fit the finger-like pieces together: "This is a church; this is the steeple; look inside and see all the people," the old children's game, is the guiding principal here. Made of interlocking hardwood plywood with an ash veneer, the stool is $400.

Speaking of children, the fourth work is designed for them. It's the EVA DVA Child's Chair by Sharon Tarantino ('80, textiles) made of something called closed-cell foam, which is light and bouncy. Its lines are strict and rectilinear, the mass broken by three openings in the back and another three in the seat. Despite its scale -- it's just over a foot high -- it has an architectural presence. The openings read as doors. The vividly colored stripes, though, keep it playful. The lightweight, squishy material means that should one rambunctious toddler hurl it at another, there will be no damage done to child or chair. And the chair, like the child, is easy to hose down. EVA DVA is $65.

risd works is at 10 Westminster St., Providence, 401-277-4949. The chairs can be ordered by telephone or online.

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The mighty windsors
PROVIDENCE -- "I can't think of another household object from the 18th century that hasn't ever gone out of style," Thomas Michie says. "If you go to IKEA today, they're there. To me, that's the sign of a design problem perfectly resolved."
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