Centripetal Spring Side Chair

Centripetal Spring Side Chair

c. 1849
Thomas E. Warren, American
Born: Vermont
Work Locations: Troy, NY
Active Dates: 1835-1860
American Chair Company
Work Locations: Troy, NY
Active Dates: 1835-1860
Troy, NY
United States
Painted cast iron, painted steel, wood, and original upholstery
Accession Number
Credit Line
Funds from DAM Yankees

Thomas E. Warren, Centripetal Spring Side Chair, about 1849. Painted cast iron, painted steel, wood, and original upholstery; 21 1/2 × 18 7/8 × 20 1/2 in. Manufactured by American Chair Company, Troy, New York. Denver Art Museum: Funds from DAM Yankees, 1989.91.

height: 21.5 in, 54.6100 cm; width: 18.875 in, 47.9425 cm; depth: 20.5 in, 52.0700 cm
Architecture and Design
Architecture and Design
This object is currently on view

By the mid-1800s, U.S. furniture makers developed new designs that took advantage of machine manufacturing techniques. The American Chair Company was primarily a maker of railway-car seating that had spring-based devices designed to absorb shocks during high-speed movement. Thomas E. Warren’s centripetal spring chair was one of the company’s earliest household products. Praised for its innovative spring mechanism at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, Warren’s design swiveled and turned in the manner of a modern desk chair.

With the rise of the American steel industry in the 1840s, cast iron and steel began to appear in furniture. Eight C-shaped lengths of compressed steel form Warren’s patented “centripetal” spring which, combined with a central turning mechanism, allows the seat to move in any direction as the sitter’s weight shifts. Although made of ornately molded cast iron and undecorated sheet steel, all of the chair’s surfaces that come into contact with the sitter are upholstered.

Known Provenance
Purchased 1989 from (Margot Johnson, Inc.), New York by the Denver Art Museum.
Exhibition History
  • "What Is Modern?" — Denver Art Museum, 10/30/2010 - 3/24/2013
  • “Check Out These Stems!” — Denver Art Museum, 6/1/2015 – 10/11/2015
  • “By Design: Stories and Ideas Behind Objects” — Denver Art Museum, 10/24/2021 – 12/31/2022