History of Furniture – Chairs

History of Furniture – Chairs

Chairs are a necessity of every home today, and can be easily used to refresh the look of the house. Armchairs, Slipper Chairs, Study Chairs, Dining Chairs etc. are some of the innumerable kinds of chairs to select from.

A chair brings together practicality, creativity and most importantly engineering.

Although it has been used since ancient times, for many centuries it was only used by the royalty and nobility.

But, if we go back into history, we didn’t use chairs as much as we use it today. If need be, early humans sat on bare ground or logs or rocks. But because these forms had their own challenges, different forms of seats began to evolve and thus, chairs came into existence and have now become an essential part of our living.

Pre 12th Century, seats were primarily three-legged stools or benches, with no back. They were primitive, crudely made, and purely functional.

In the following centuries, a back and a fourth leg were added and henceforth, it became a chair. Until the 15th Century, Carved Gothic styles and high-backed straight cathedral chairs were typical.

A primitive 3-legged stool
A primitive 3-legged stool

During the Renaissance, Chairs became more refined, comfortable and decorative. Looks became as important as function. European kings, in particular King Louis XIV, introduced luxurious ornamentation, veneers, rich fabrics, exotic wood, stones, gold and silver.

The 18th Century took the opulence and the formal look to the next level. French and English Monarchs marked the beginning of Rococo forms, curved lines, floral decorations, and even more ornamentation. Instead of a single form, seating now took various forms like stools, dining chairs, side chairs, armchairs, etc.

Victorian Style Chair with Silver leafing by Kaath
Victorian Style Chair with Silver leafing by Kaath

After the French Revolution, heavy, straight neoclassical lines replaced Rococo forms. Large “Empire” chairs became popular. Around mid-century, in the opulent Victorian era, heavy fabrics, like dark-coloured velvets started being used. Alongside this style, during the Federal movement, a colonial, classical look also came into existence in America.

Earliest known type of American easy chair
Earliest known type of American easy chair

Industrial Revolution had a dramatic impact on lifestyles as it brought wealth to the middle-class, allowing them a chance to change the decors of their homes. Crafted modern style became popular. Some styles that followed were Bauhaus, Art nouveau, modernism, art deco.

Art Deco - Grussoni Chair by Kaath
Art Deco – Grussoni Chair by Kaath

Midcentury-modernism took off after World War II, with designs now focusing more on function and minimalism. Chairs were light & sleek with Neutral color palettes. Materials like molded plastic, plywood, metal, steel, and glass started being used for the structure while microfiber, suede and upholsteries like leather, linen, chenille, velvet were being used for finishing.

Kasbah Chair by Kaath - A Contemporary High Back Chair
Kasbah Chair by Kaath – A Contemporary High Back Chair

20th Century was the golden age of the modern chairs. The technological innovations and the upward mobility of the masses drove the world’s best designers to seize the creative challenge of re-inventing this piece of furniture. Some of these contemporary inventions are exemplary pieces that can grace your homes.

Here are some of our favorite picks of these iconic chairs:

Versatile Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck
Versatile Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck
Contemporary version of the Curule Chair
Contemporary version of the Curule Chair
The Iconic Klismos Chair
The Iconic Klismos Chair
Tom Dixon's iconic design of the Wingback chair
Tom Dixon’s iconic design of the Wingback chair
Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner is an icon of mid-century modern style
Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner is an icon of mid-century modern style
Eames Lounge Chair,  by Charles and Ray Eames, was introduced in 1956
Eames Lounge Chair, by Charles and Ray Eames, was introduced in 1956
Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer, also called the Model B3 chair
Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer, also called the Model B3 chair
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