Furniture - A Personal History Of Movable Objects

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Episodes

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01'Whereyouwanttogoto' - The Wardrobe and the Other World20140407

01'whereyouwanttogoto' - The Wardrobe And The Other World2014040720150420 (R3)

Novelist and academic Ian Sansom steps into the history of wardrobes, to discover not only how and why we store clothes in large upright wooden boxes, but also why wardrobes feature so largely in fairy tales, memoirs and stories. From E. Nesbit's 'The Aunt and Anabel' to C.S Lewis's 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe', via Guy De Maupassant's tragic tale of a child in a wardrobe, Rimbaud's poem about a wardrobe with missing keys, and Roman Polanski's short film about two men who carry a wardrobe out of the sea; Ian explores the symbolism of wardrobes as a place where secrets are stored, imaginations inspired, consciences hidden, and our 'selves' reinvented.

01'whereyouwanttogoto' - The Wardrobe And The Other World20140407

Novelist and academic Ian Sansom steps into the history of wardrobes, to discover not only how and why we store clothes in large upright wooden boxes, but also why wardrobes feature so largely in fairy tales, memoirs and stories. From E. Nesbit's 'The Aunt and Anabel' to C.S Lewis's 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe', via Guy De Maupassant's tragic tale of a child in a wardrobe, Rimbaud's poem about a wardrobe with missing keys, and Roman Polanski's short film about two men who carry a wardrobe out of the sea; Ian explores the symbolism of wardrobes as a place where secrets are stored, imaginations inspired, consciences hidden, and our 'selves' reinvented.

02Who's Been Sitting In My Chair? Our Shadow Selves2014040820150421 (R3)

Are you sitting comfortably? Despite his bad posture, novelist and academic Ian Sansom explores our complex physical, mental and emotional relationship with the chair. Chairs can symbolise who we are, like Ian's comfy old overstuffed armchair, and in 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears', the little bear asks 'Who's been sitting in my chair?' which Ian reads as "Who am I?" Van Gogh painted two empty chairs after his famous fall-out with Gauguin; Henry Thoreau, out in his cabin at Walden Pond, had just three chairs 'one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society'. Ian has 26 chairs in total, but not a 'named chair', which is the 'scholar's burnished throne'. Apart from beds, we share more intimacy with chairs than with any other piece of furniture, but often their symbolism is most powerful when empty, because Ian believes that empty chairs always imply people.

03Je suis un table20140409

03Je Suis Un Table2014040920150422 (R3)

The novelist and academic Ian Sansom explores the literary, philosophical and cultural history of the table.

From dining to designing, drinking and disagreeing; the table is central to our lives; "the departure point and launching pad for a thousand hare-brained schemes and ideas, a drawing board, a battlefield, and also the philosopher's favourite tool". Ian has raised a family round his kitchen table, but his true table as a writer is a solitary one. Bertrand Russell used the table as a symbol to explore the uncertain nature of observed reality; Wordsworth urged readers to rise up from their wooden desk, while Karl Marx used tables to explore the notion of commodities in Das Kapital, but is the table Ian built for O-level woodwork the truest thing he has ever made?'.

03Je Suis Un Table20140409

The novelist and academic Ian Sansom explores the literary, philosophical and cultural history of the table.

From dining to designing, drinking and disagreeing; the table is central to our lives; "the departure point and launching pad for a thousand hare-brained schemes and ideas, a drawing board, a battlefield, and also the philosopher's favourite tool". Ian has raised a family round his kitchen table, but his true table as a writer is a solitary one. Bertrand Russell used the table as a symbol to explore the uncertain nature of observed reality; Wordsworth urged readers to rise up from their wooden desk, while Karl Marx used tables to explore the notion of commodities in Das Kapital, but is the table Ian built for O-level woodwork the truest thing he has ever made?'.

04Old Mother Hubbard and the Cabinet of Curiosity: The Story of Storage20140410

04Old Mother Hubbard And The Cabinet Of Curiosity: The Story Of Storage2014041020150423 (R3)

Novelist Ian Sansom delves into cupboards and cabinets to explore what they reveal about human nature. Le Corbusier didn't approve of the clutter cupboards encourage, wanting to free our lives of 'junk'; whereas artist Herbert Distel filled a cabinet with trinkets donated by Man Ray, Annette Messager, Andy Warhol, and John Cage - 'a roll-call of twentieth-century conceptualists, creatives, collagists and curators of the curious' in his Museum of Drawers. Rimbaud wrote about an old sideboard crammed with memories, and Duchamp fitted his life's work in a suitcase, but Ian wonders if the contents of our cupboards really do tell our life stories, complete with the all the hopes, dreams and broken promises suggested by unused pasta machines and unfinished jigsaws - or in the end does it all 'amount to nothing, just so much junk?'.

04Old Mother Hubbard And The Cabinet Of Curiosity: The Story Of Storage20140410

Novelist Ian Sansom delves into cupboards and cabinets to explore what they reveal about human nature. Le Corbusier didn't approve of the clutter cupboards encourage, wanting to free our lives of 'junk'; whereas artist Herbert Distel filled a cabinet with trinkets donated by Man Ray, Annette Messager, Andy Warhol, and John Cage - 'a roll-call of twentieth-century conceptualists, creatives, collagists and curators of the curious' in his Museum of Drawers. Rimbaud wrote about an old sideboard crammed with memories, and Duchamp fitted his life's work in a suitcase, but Ian wonders if the contents of our cupboards really do tell our life stories, complete with the all the hopes, dreams and broken promises suggested by unused pasta machines and unfinished jigsaws - or in the end does it all 'amount to nothing, just so much junk?'.

05An Intimate History of the Bed20140411

05An Intimate History of the Bed2014041120150424 (R3)

dNovelist and academic Ian Sansom explores the symbolism of beds in literature, art and film, and asks what beds reveal about human nature. 'Beds are where we are most physical, most elemental, and where we experience the great highs and lows of life. Everything significant that happens to us tends to take place in bed'. Certainly many of history's greatest thinkers and writers are thought to have been inspired in bed; G.K. Chesterton wished he had a pencil long enough to write on the ceiling while lying down, Milton is said to have written Paradise Lost in bed, and Truman Capote started his day in bed with coffee, mint tea, sherry and martinis. Ian thinks the bed is where we are most ourselves 'the place where you cannot hide', and perhaps we try to avoid spending too much time there because we fear what it signifies - 'the never-ending lie-in to come'.

05An Intimate History of the Bed2014041120150424 (R3)

dNovelist and academic Ian Sansom explores the symbolism of beds in literature, art and film, and asks what beds reveal about human nature. 'Beds are where we are most physical, most elemental, and where we experience the great highs and lows of life. Everything significant that happens to us tends to take place in bed'. Certainly many of history's greatest thinkers and writers are thought to have been inspired in bed; G.K. Chesterton wished he had a pencil long enough to write on the ceiling while lying down, Milton is said to have written Paradise Lost in bed, and Truman Capote started his day in bed with coffee, mint tea, sherry and martinis. Ian thinks the bed is where we are most ourselves 'the place where you cannot hide', and perhaps we try to avoid spending too much time there because we fear what it signifies - 'the never-ending lie-in to come'.

05 LASTAn Intimate History Of The Bed20140411

Novelist and academic Ian Sansom explores the symbolism of beds in literature, art and film, and asks what beds reveal about human nature. 'Beds are where we are most physical, most elemental, and where we experience the great highs and lows of life. Everything significant that happens to us tends to take place in bed'. Certainly many of history's greatest thinkers and writers are thought to have been inspired in bed; G.K. Chesterton wished he had a pencil long enough to write on the ceiling while lying down, Milton is said to have written Paradise Lost in bed, and Truman Capote started his day in bed with coffee, mint tea, sherry and martinis. Ian thinks the bed is where we are most ourselves 'the place where you cannot hide', and perhaps we try to avoid spending too much time there because we fear what it signifies - 'the never-ending lie-in to come'.