The lotus chair and other icons of <br> Topanga Canyon hippie modern design


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My colleague Robin Rauzi recently confessed to an elaborate home fantasy that involves an old school industrial loft and pre-engineered mezzanines. That’s the kind of place I’d like to visit, but my dream home is on the opposite end of the spectrum -- a stylish shack in Topanga Canyon with tribal rugs on the floors, drippy macrame planters in the trees, and chairs like the one pictured above.

Scott Nadeau, owner of the Silver Lake boutique 10 Ten is reading me like a book. He’s dubbed my dream style ‘Topanga Canyon hippie modern’ and I’d happily purchase nearly everything in his small store on Silver Lake Boulevard for my fantasy home. His most recent addition is this 1970s-era Lotus chair designed by Daniel Wenger, which he and the artist are reproducing in a numbered, limited edition for $2,800. As the artist describes it, the lotus chair is ‘a hammock-like support that allows one’s heart to generate a gentle rocking motion.’


Wenger, who worked as a computer programmer (in the 1950s), a physics professor and a hang-gliding instructor, started designing his lotus chairs in 1969 while living in Topanga Canyon. (That’s him, back in the day, in the photo to the right.) He moved his workshop to Soquel, Calif., in 1970 and sold his handcrafted chairs in galleries up and down the California coast until 1979. He estimates he made about 200 chairs during that time, some of which occasionally turn up at estate sales.

Nadeau came across the lotus chair through a friend, and was so taken with it that he started researching the artist. He found Wenger living in Santa Cruz and proposed a partnership to reissue the chairs. The 75-year-old designer was surprised, but game. ‘I certainly didn’t think I was going to be back designing chairs again,’ he said.

Nadeau and Wenger are currently producing two chairs: the lotus chair and a dining chair. They come in brown latigo leather with a steel base that will look similar to the chairs Wenger was making in the ‘70s, and an updated black leather with a stainless steel base.

Wenger’s website includes information on the chairs and his other designs, like his ‘cube,’ right, which can be used as a hammock holder or turned into an enclosed space such as a music studio or sauna. He and Nadeau have plans to start building those as well.

I think it would be the perfect guesthouse for the Topanga Canyon shack of my dreams.

-- Deborah Netburn