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1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 271 (257)

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition
1947-48 Theatre Catalog
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 271
Page 271

1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 271

Review of Developments in Theatre Seating

Manufacturers' Words and Pictures Describe

The Advances in Chair Comfort for Patrons

Theatre seating, always a topic of vital concern to all theatre owners, assumed proportions of vital importance during the war years when the manufacturers were converted to other activities. With the coming of peace, the critical situation persisted because of the shortages of the two vital elements of chair manufacture, steel and upholstery material.

Although the seriousness of the situation has been somewhat alleviated during the past year, design engineers have not been idle, devoting considerable time to the development of better theatre seating.

The major development of the year has been the entry of several items into the field of theatre chairs with retractable seats, a field heretofore dominated by a single example. Not all the new models are, however, in commercial production, nor are all manufacturers overtly interested in the market. And there is at least one manufacturer that is known to be holding pertinent patentsebut keeping mum on the details.

The other major development in all types of chairs is a redesigning better to fit the seated patron to create more comfort while watching the show.

To review the situation briefly and to point up these two developments, the following material is presented, condensed without comment from material supplied by the several manufacturers.


Considerable interest followed'the announcements of Air-O Seating Corporationis new Slideaway auditorium chair. The Slideaway chair is said to offer the advantages of several patented new features, including a sliding retractable seat of entirely new design.

The new chair was designed by Peter F. Masucci, president of Air-O Seating. Masucci was formerly with the Hey THE SLIDEAWAY CHAIR of the Air-0 Seating Corporation includes in its new desiqn a retractable seat which is claimed. as illustrated here. to add 6 inches to the passing space.


wood-Wakefield Company, and has been associated with the industry and with the problems of theatre seating since 1927.

The Slideaway chair is the result of more than four years of intensive study and engineering development, based on his long personal experience with theatre seating conditions. The design has been developed for practicability in rows, and adaptability to main floors, loges, and balconies, as well as for maximum comfort in each individual chair.

Most distinctive among the patented new features of the Slideaway chair is the novel sliding seat which incorporates simplified mechanical principles not found in any other theatre chair. The extreme simplicity of the sliding mechanism is said to assure absolute foolproof operation and freedom from maintenance. Forward and backward sliding movement of the seat is accomplished merely by shifting the weight of the body. The action is smooth, silent, and immediately responsive.

Another basically important characteristic of the Slideaway chair is its stationary back. While the seat slides forward and back, the chair back remains motionless.

Discussing the advantages of the stationary back, it is pointed out that this feature permitted a departure from the usual theatre chair contour and to achieve important space saving characteristics in the design, while providing improved seating comfort. Through an anatomical study of sitting postures, it was found that the average theatre-goer will usually rest his shoulders against the chair back, leaving several inches of space between his lower back and the chair upholstery. The designer set out to make use of this wasted space. He redesigned the contour of the back and upholstery to provide maximum normal body support. At the same time, the saving in space was used to allow for additional knee space between rows.

In a 32-inch back-to-back installation, the sliding seat, when fully retracted, provides a full 6 inches of extra passageway for patrons moving in and out of a row, thus causing the least possible discomfort to those who are already seated.

As further pointed out, the new chair back design has made practicable and desirable a chair in which the slope of the back is the same regardless of whether it is installed on the main floor, in loges or in balconies. Also, where a moving back might be obstructed by risers in loge and balcony, the stationary back is perfectly adaptable.

Another major advantage which is claimed by the manufacturers of the Slideaway chair is the provision for relaxing changes of posture. The sliding seat permits easy, comfortable changes

of position while the slope of the stationary pack provides proper support at. all times. Normal impairment of blood circulation caused by remaining in one sitting posture for a protracted period is a serious theatre seating condition which is said to be corrected by the multiple posture adaptability of the Slideaway seat.

Improved sight lines are another advantage pointed out by Slideawayis designer. When the sliding seat is fully retracted, the occupants eye level is raised a full four inches, permitting a small person to adjust his posture comfortably so as to see better when seated behind a taller person.


The E-Z-Pas seat, as invented and patented by Arthur J. Jungerman, recedes automatically when the patron rises naturally, stepping backward instead of forward, as is neccesary in the manually operated seat; thus providing ample room for the passer-by. E-Z-Pas seat remains up and back so long as unoccupied. On resuming his seat the patron sits down without using his hands, the seat descending by the pressure of the body.

This movement leaves the passage open and unobstructed allowing the theatre to be quickly emptied, averting panic in case of fire or other debacle.

As expressed in writing by one fire chief, ttAfter making a careful inspection of your chair (E-Z-Pas) the selfraising seat automatically clears the aisle in front of it, thus affording very little, if any, confusion in making a hasty exit in case of an emergency."

This automatic rise of 12 inches and more in the E-Z-Pas leaves ample clearance for cleaning, making it unnecessary to raise every seat in the house manually, many of which tilt back to within a few inches of the floor.

THE E-Z-PAS CHAIR of Arthur I. Iungerman has an automatic rise (as indicated by the dotted lines in the picture) of 12 inches, leaving ample clearance {or patron passing and maintenance.
1947-48 Theatre Catalog, 6th Edition, Page 271