At last, a ‘University Chair’ you can actually sit on

Posted by mjs76 at Jul 06, 2012 12:11 PM |
The Engelbert Humperdinck Chair: not an endowed Professorship but an actual piece of furniture.

Cambridge has the Arthur Balfour Chair in Genetics, Oxford has the Montague Burton Chair in International Relations, Harvard has the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies. And we’ve got the Engelbert Humperdinck Chair in the library!

Sit on any of the others and you’ll find yourself in the lap of a confused and possibly irate academic, but our chair is an honest-to-goodness actual chair, bought out of a catalogue with money generously donated by Engelbert Humperdinck fans. It’s comfortable, it’s ergonomic and it fits neatly underneath the table when you’ve finished sitting on it.

Veteran crooner Humperdinck (aka Gerry Dorsey), seen most recently being robbed on Eurovision, is a Leicestershire resident and an Honorary Graduate of the University; we awarded him a Doctorate in Music in 2000.

Five years ago, the Englebert UK Fan Club, which meets twice yearly in a pub near the singer's Great Glen home, sponsored a chair in our library to commemorate Eng’s 40 years in showbiz. The lady responsible for that generous act passed away recently and her collection of Humperdinckiana was auctioned off among his other loyal fans. Monies raised from this sale have paid for a smart new piece of furniture, unveiled recently.


The chair in question, as can be seen from this photo, is a Visavis 2, manufactured by top office furniture purveyors Vitra and designed by celebrated Italian architect Antonio Citterio, Professor of Design at the Architecture Academy of Mendrisio of the University of Lugano.

It stands a magnificent 800mm tall and is 550mm wide by 580mm deep, with a padded seat measuring 460mm by 465mm. Visavis 2 chairs can fit together neatly in stacks of up to five. The chair complies with safety standards DIN EN 1728, EN 13761 and ANSI/BIFMA X5.1, and has been environmentally certified with the Blue Angel award for low-emission upholstered furniture. Furthermore it has a two-year warranty (six months for the upholstery).

This cantilevered chair is extremely comfortable, thanks to the shape and construction of its tubular steel frame. The free suspension of the seat allows it to respond to the user’s movements with springy resilience. The backrest is made of flexible plastic with integrated armrests. Due to its innovative construction, it not only provides solid support to the spine, but also allows a high degree of mobility. Perforations in the surface ensure constant air circulation. These are not simply aesthetic features, but essential elements of comfort. In addition the chair is available in a wide selection of upholstery materials, colours and surface textures.
Visavis catalogue

The Engelbert Humperdinck Chair is on the top floor of the David Wilson Library. Anyone wishing to view the chair who does not have a University library card should ask at the reception desk.


Unfortunately the University’s Showaddywaddy footstool is currently in storage and not available to view.