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Empty Chair at the Lensvelt Gallery

During this year’s edition of GLUE Amsterdam, Lensvelt invited artist Erik Kessels to create a total experience at the Lensvelt Gallery. Visitors were invited to step into artist Erik Kessels’ mysterious mind and witness a one-off live performance and a (simplistic) conceptual whole inspired by Kessels’ book A Pictorial History of the Empty Chair.

Purchase the book and get the Empty Chair for free.

The Empty Chair with matching book is available for 120 Euro (excl. VAT) 

Tekst 1


The book deals with the subject of absence. Looking at an empty chair makes us wonder who could sit or who might be sitting there. Not knowing or seeing this makes us more curious and a photograph more exciting. Will the empty chair be able to carry the weight and who will be its new companion? Will we ever know?

Edited by Erik Kessels and Karel De Mulder.

Tekst 2

The Empty Chair book

Lensvelt booklet

Spreads from the Empty Chair book

Empty Chair_ click to order

The collaboration

One wintry evening, Hans Lensvelt's good friend Erik Kessels dropped by at the office carrying a mock -up of a new book. Kessels had assembled a selection of photos with a random empty chair from his immense collection of photos collected at markets around the world.

Because all the chairs in the pictures are on the right side of the photo, it gives a kind of comic and reinforcing effect to the visual story. The photos are placed in chronological order so that it also becomes a journey through time where the reader is taken into the ambience and furniture design starting from the early 20th century to the present. This collection of 160 photos presents a unique and rich history of furniture design through the years.

Tekst 4

Empty Chair_ durable, stackable and 100% recyclable.

Hans Lensvelt was instantly charmed by the original booklet and decided to publish it. At the same time he thought it would be very fitting to produce a real Empty Chair. He immediately contacted his R&D manager Rick Minkes who was with one of the manufacturers at the time and promptly had a prototype made. 

Tekst 5

Image of the Empty Chair which appears on the cover of the Lensvelt brochure


Lensvelt is an award-wining, dedicated, Amsterdam-based design and furniture label founded in 1962. We work with renowned designers and artists who all like to challenge the status quo in their own way.

Erik Kessels is a Dutch artist, designer, curator and lecturer with great interest in photography. Since 1996 he is Creative Partner of communications agency KesselsKramer in Amsterdam and works for national and international clients such as Nike, Diesel, J&B Whisky, Oxfam, Vitra and Citizen M.

Tekst 6

A picture spread from the booklet that Kessels made with photographer Bert Teunissen for Lensvelt.

- Erik Kessels x Lensvelt

An empty chair is spoken for,
but what does an empty chair say?
It says I am reserved for someone else
who should be here today.

Or maybe it doesn’t say a word,
and the napkin says it all.
That someone else is sitting here,
they just had to make a call.

An empty chair is full of meaning
that travels time and space.
It’s held the lives of many others,
yet stayed in that one place.

A seat of comfort or sometimes pain,
but a chair will have your back.
Making sure you sit up straight,
for the confidence you lack.

An empty chair is always there,
an invitation if you will.
But I’d prefer to stand a while,
cause I’ve got some time to kill.

And if I sit, I’ll feel alone,
with no one else to stare.
So I’d rather stand my life away
and see my empty chair.

Tekst 6

A picture from the booklet that Kessels made with photographer Bert Teunissen for Lensvelt.