Straw backed chairs from Orkney are one of the most distinctive forms of British regional chair. They originate on islands where home grown wood is scarce and where the inhabitants turned to other natural materials to supply many of their needs. Paramount amongst these was the straw produced from the native black oats which was used in the manufacture of many kinds of domestic items. David Munro Kirkness (1855-1936) had been been born on Westray and opened his business as a carpenter and undertaker in about 1880; chairs from his workshop found favour in London and other metropolitan centres, and examples were shown in housing exhibitions promoted by major stores. D M Kirkness maintained his workshops over a fifty-year period producing, as reported in his obituary , some 14,000 chairs in his working life.