Foot’s Adjustable Chair-Couch – the ultimate sitting desk from 100 years ago

Foot's Adjustable Chair-Couch

Foot’s was a London, England based furniture company that flourished 100 years ago. Seen above is their most Jerker-y creation – the patented “Burlington” model “Adjustable Chair-Couch”. Advertised as a gentleman’s chair, in 1912, and then as as the ultimate “Xmas Gift” for the “Sick and Wounded” at the start of World War I, this chair-couch has absolutely everything you’d want from a modern non-desk desk except for a USB port.

Here’s their ad from a 1914 issue of THE STRAND MAGAZINE:

Foot's Adjustable Chair-Couch

And I managed to track down a couple of photos of a worn but still complete “Burlington” model Chair-Desk a century after it’s manufacture, and here they are:

"Foot's Adjustable Chair Couch" BURLINGTON

With three swing out surfaces, basically a flat work surface, a round drink tray, and a adjustable angle book reading (or drawing) stand Foot’s Burlington model has everything you need for working from a chair/couch.

How much does (or did or should) an Ikea Jerker desk cost?

Ikea discontinued the Jerker (Version 2) Desk more than a decade ago but they’re still for sale on the secondary market.

Sites like Craigslist and Kijjiji have Ikea Jerkers for sale every single day, all around the world.

But how much should a Jerker cost?

The best way to answer this question is to see how much they cost back when Ikea sold them.

Here’s the original price for an “Ikea Jerker Desk” in a screenshot from the USA Ikea website, February 9, 2005:

Ikea Jerker Desk from 2005

And here’s a screenshot showing the price of an “Ikea Jerker Computer Desk”:

Ikea Jerker Computer Desk (2005)

And here’s a screeshot showing the price of an “Ikea Jerker Computer Table”:

Ikea Jerker Computer Table (2005)

So, back in 2005, we’ve got prices ranging between $90 and $190 US.

A sample of various sites around North America had listings ranging from FREE (and usually “Gone”) to $40 to $400. My experience, which is pretty good, I’d say a typical Ikea Jerker should sell for between $60 and $150. These will have scratches on the legs, dings and maybe scratch or two on the desktop and the shelf. A pristine condition Jerker, version 2, could sell for $200.

the Herman Miller aesthetic – functional elegance

The Ikea Jerker desk has stood, and will stand, the test of time, not because of Ikea’s continuing support for it, but despite of Ikea’s lack of support.

Once something as durable and as elegant as the clean modernist lines as the Ikea Jerker Version 2 is marketed to the masses, it gains a life separate and apart from the manufacturer.

Ikea Jerker Version 2 in a birch finish

The Ikea Jerker, I would contend, combines the best design aesthetic – that of Herman Miller with the reconfigurability of LEGO.

Other posts will be about how to reconfigure, but this post is about the design aesthetic itself.

Here are the six Herman Miller designed desks marketed in the very first issue of Playboy (December 1953):

Herman Miller desk from 1953

Herman Miller desk from 1953

Herman Miller desk from 1953

Herman Miller desk from 1953

Herman Miller desk from 1953

Herman Miller desk from 1953

And here’s a modern Herman Miller desk, looking very similar to those classics from 1953, and, I think you’ll note it is not too dissimilar from the Ikea Galant and Bakant A-Leg designs.

a modern Herman Miller desk

 

Al these desks lack is that hyper-reconfigurability we love about the Jerker.

Are Ikea Jerkers Environmentally Friendly?

Today I stumbled upon some interesting facts about Ikea. Approximately one percent, in 2012, of all the world’s commercially processed wood was used by Ikea. But America does have Ikea beat as Home Depot and Lowe’s are number 1 and 2 of the world’s largest consumers of wood, with Ikea getting the bronze ahead of Walmart.

I don’t see this as particularly bad thing as I view particle board as being environmentally friendly, even with all that glue. This is echoed by sfGate.com

Particleboard is made from the scraps of other lumber products. This means that there is no waste when particleboard is manufactured, and no extra logging need be done to produce particleboard.

And if not particleboard, then what else should be used for furniture that is economical to transport, re-usable, and good? Plastic, steel or solid wood? Don’t forget solid wood warps easily.Edge views of hardboard, MDF, plywood, veneered particle board, plywood, MDF,

So what to do to be a good citizen of Earth?

  • Fix your Jerker desk when it breaks
  • Take your Jerker with you when you move
  • Repaint or stain your Jerker when it gets too ugly
  • Sell your desk on Craigslist when you are done with it
  • Give your Jerker to a kid, it is adjustable after all
  • Use your Jerker for storage especially the high upper shelves
  • Get two Jerkers, one for sitting when you are tired, and one for standing so you can humblebrag

Jerkers From the Good Old Days

Picture from within an Ikea store of a Jerker computer desk on sale for $129, circa 2003I’d by that for a dollar, or $129 to be precise.

I am not really sure how Ikea actually made money on the Jerker workstations. For what you get, it sure seems cheap. All that wood, steel and adjust-ability shipped in a nice box from Sweden, Poland or China.

 

Line are drawing of an Ikea Jerker version 2 workstation with printer stand and cpu holder

pdf_16x16 An Ikea Jerker flyer from 2003, US version 2, describing all the extra parts and prices. This basic set up, with a $10 swinging printer shelf and a $10 CPU holder, would have set you back $149 in 2003. There are some Jerker parts I didn’t even know existed in the flyer, a storage unit, drawers and a normal nonadjustable sit down desk.

 

A Jerker by Any Other Name Would Still Stand as Steady

“Jerker” has an odd etymology via Sweden of course. Apparently, it is a male given name formed from the name Erik, the ancient Swedish Ērīker and Norse Eirikr. The name has a fitting meaning of “always ruling” which is maybe why Ikea made the desk so well. The first king of Sweden about whom anything definite is known was Eric the Victorious

Eric the Victorious praying to Odin, from Wikipediawho gambled on marrying Sigrid the Haughty who was described as beautiful but vengeful. Eric the Victorious appears in a number of Norse sagas and ruled from 970 to 995. The last Swedish king named Eric was Eric XIV who was poisoned to death in 1577 while imprisoned in a castle.

There are around 2800 people with Jerker as a first name in Sweden. The name can also be spelled Järker which would make it difficult to spell with a good old American keyboard. I found four modern Jerkers famous enough for Wikipedia, Jerker Johansson, Jerker Porath, Jerker Lysell, and Jerker Rönnberg. And last but not least, “Jerker” was also one of the first plays to deal with AIDS, staged in 1986, which was later turned into a movie.