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Chair Design: How a Chair Can Tell a Story

A chair alone can tell a story of values, origin and cultural significance.

Chairs come in all different shapes, sizes, colours and finishes, some are designed for functionality while others are designed purely for aesthetics.  Chairs have been around since the beginning of time. When I say chairs, I mean perches or places where you can rest and take the weight off your tired feet. Historically chairs were symbols of hierarchy, their importance was much more than the something we just sit in. Chairs have managed to capture perfectly each period of design throughout history. It’s not just the appearance of chairs that has changed through time, comfort and need has changed too, enriching each designs story.

Read about the rise of ‘accent chairs’ in another NDA blog here: ‘Accent Chairs: An Easy Way to Brighten a Space’.

Chair_Design_Story_Blog_1Source: Anthropologie


Following a quick count (to my surprise) I found I have 37 places to sit in my home!  Now I am not saying that these seats are all ideal, some in fact are rather uncomfortable and not one of them is a symbol of hierarchy like chairs of the past, but I realised they all have a personality of their own, many serving different functions. Looking at the range in my space alone, it made me reflect on the the story of chair design through the years.



No other piece of furniture in your home can offer the same possibilities of making and facilitating connections as well as a chair does. Past and present Designers, Manufacturers and Craftsman alike take great pride in producing these pieces. A chair can be expression of taste, a necessary component, an elegant addition in your home and can even be a show of values, origin and cultural significance.  


Source: Pinterest

Chairs are a huge player in the history of design in general with regards to innovation, and application of materials and technology, meaning the chair has evolved throughout the ages, being a symbol of design at each stage. The best chair designs come back into the design arena over and over again and can steel the limelight.  Think of the café style chair by Thonet in the mid-1800’s, beautifully bent solid and laminated beech, constructed with a woven cane seat, I’m sure I have seen a reproduction of these around lately have you?


Source: DesignMilk

Riemerchinds chairs of the early 1900’s are also great design classics, he loved to use woven rattan and mesh seating.  And how could I not mention Breuer with his many interpretations of the traditional chair. Breuer also loved mixing material and used cane in his creations.  Let us fast forward to the 40’s where we see the mix of cane, rattan and wood appearing in the common house hold chair. This marriage of materials displays characteristics that are authentic and natural.


Source: Pinterest

Simple, natural materials that tell the story of how the chair was made, whilst still creating impact are the ultimate qualities of good design. Good chair design is honest, long lasting, thorough, unobtrusive and aesthetic.  Good design is generally at its best when hand crafted, naturally inspired and created using minimal materials.  The best chairs are those that are both visual and functional winners.  Chairs that are made rather than manufactured carry with them individuality, purity and their own story.


Source: Phillips


Source: Cox&Cox

Chairs can tell their own story of origin, travel and design.

Thanks for reading!

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One Response

  1. Well said! Chairs are an essential element of every house. The evolution of modern technology has made serious impacts on the design world. Now we can 3D-print entire furniture unit in one go. A chair can be weird, but it doesn’t mean to forget its function.

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