1963 Ron Thom Champlain Chair

1963 Ron Thom Champlain Chair


Original chair designed BY Thom for Trent University in 1963. Thom was the chief architect at the university. Very important Canadian example where very few have survived. 

Solid and usable.

In total, the university had more than 250 individual pieces of furniture made locally or in small shops in Toronto using these Trent designs. “These were top quality pieces, too,” says Mr. Tuckerman. “The drawings and specs show very high-quality construction and hand-rubbed finishes, and materials like Knoll fabrics and leather, and woods like teak, white oak, rosewood, tulipwood and walnut.”

The furniture was supplemented with the purchase of 443 designer chairs by famous contemporary designers, including Arne Jacobsen of Denmark, Alvar Aalto of Finland and Harry Bertoia of Italy. “Several architects and design historians have all suggested that Trent in the late ’60s, already an architectural masterpiece, also had the best collection of mid-century modern furnishings in North America,” observes Mr. Tuckerman.

The university owes this design legacy to famed British Columbia architect Ron Thom, who was hired by Trent’s founding president Tom Symons to be the master planning architect for the institution. Mr. Thom, at the time, had recently completed the design of Massey College at the University of Toronto. One of President Symons’ instructions to the architect was that the Trent campus “should be a place of esthetic as well as intellectual excitement.”

Mr. Thom proceeded to design the iconic buildings, completed in 1966, that form the hub of Trent’s main campus. These include the Champlain and Lady Eaton colleges and the Bata Library – architectural masterpieces that have won international recognition and awards.

Arthur Erickson, another famous Canadian architect (who also designed iconic buildings for several universities, among them the University of Lethbridge and Simon Fraser University), wrote in a 1969 edition of Canadian Interiors: “The intimate and sometimes diminutive scale of [Mr. Thom’s] buildings and their conjunctive spaces, as much as anything else, establishes the harmony of the whole composition on the site. . . . Trent at this stage has everything going for it.”

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