Yes, I also captured this using a 17mm TSE however, it was simply, for the lack of better terms flat and almost sterile and looked amateur (which to me is counterintuitive
as it takes 5 minutes just to align a tilt shift lens).
This whole room however, was captured using the 17mm TSE as the difference in depths created an almost random distribution of column angles (I hope that conveys and is understandable) as the columns furthest away had a different angle than the columns closer to me.
The lighting was three Elinchrom strobes. If you look really closely, and pay attention to the shadows, their location will reveal themselves
The bar was flanked using two Rotalux gridded soft boxes and the fill was dead center behind me using a hooded octal box.
I do agree with you on the chairs, and you're right it is a matter of personal taste. I do enjoy capturing an engaging image and a chair, just as you've described it would create visual tension in a positive way!
As for the mirror, It was not shot straight on for two reasons,
one, well, it's a mirror and my ugly mug would be smack dab right in the middle of it, i know that it could have been taken out in post but shooting this angle with a wide angle lens created the "engagement" that I lacked in the rest of the composition.
two, there's a TV behind the mirror, it's one of those fancy Seura displays with a LCD behind a mirror. There is another shot that shows the TV live!
I know it's hard to take one shot out of context as the more you have the better the story. I do however believe in creating a strong composition in which a single photo can stand on its own out of context and series.
I appreciate the reply and input! Now let's help you guys with your pictures so you can make money on the areas in which you are truly masters!