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Cedric Hudson Recreates Symbol of Civil Rights Protest

The Greensboro Chair—created by Cedric Hudson in 2020—has a price tag of $3,000. Courtesy photo.

Four college students walk to a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., to order a cup of coffee and a donut. They each sit down in tall, high-top chairs with an arched metal back. When asked to leave, because they are Black, they refuse to get up.

The sit-ins of the Greensboro Four in the spring of 1960 helped change the course of American history, integrating lunch counters throughout the South.

Cedric Hudson is best known for his apparel designs. He currently works for Fabletics as the senior director of design, men’s. Courtesy photo. 

In the iconic images of those nonviolent protests, Cedric Hudson, BA’12, found inspiration.

Hudson is the founder of Contemporary Athletics and designer of The Greensboro Chair—an interpretation of the metal lunch counter chairs that anchored the 1960 protest.

“There’s a lot of furniture design that uses nice materials or great construction techniques, but a lot of times it’s missing that story component,” Hudson says. “It meant a lot because I knew that it was educating people on that moment in time and what those people did to gain some pretty basic human rights.”

Hudson began designing as a student at IU, where he was a track and field athlete for the Hoosiers. Through the individualized major program, he studied fashion design years before it became an official major within the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.

In early jobs working as a designer for Adidas and Reebok, he used his experience as a Hoosier to design sideline-wear that better served athletes at NCAA programs. He worked on Kanye West’s YEEZY line with Adidas. He also designed pieces for the NBA’s James Harden that were featured in GQ magazine.

The Greensboro Chair—crafted from Peruvian walnut and dark brown upholstery—was one of his first furniture designs. He partnered with designer Ben Boutros, a colleague from Adidas to help with the technical skills needed to bring the chair to life.

Part of the original Greensboro lunch counter and row of chairs are on display at the National Museum of American History. Image courtesy of National Museum of American History.

“We’re taking [the] inspiration of those stools … the significance of sitting in that space at that time,” Boutros, of BENNU design, says. “We both had an interest in telling stories through design.”

Hudson’s Greensboro Chair uses the same design as the original metal lunch counter chairs—one crossbar and two vertical arches—with upholstery on the wooden chair’s back.

The chair was completed in the summer of 2020 and won a GRAY Award in the lighting, furniture product design category. It is currently on display at the AUX/MUTE Gallery, which features the work of contemporary Black artists, at the Portland Art Museum.

“What are some pieces of furniture that changed history? … The barstools at those Woolworth’s counters did,” Hudson says.

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Written By

Charles Scudder

Charles Scudder, BAJ '14, is a past-president of the IU Student Publications Alumni Association board. He is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an associate professor of practice at Southern Methodist University.

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