Evolution of Chairs
Updated: Jul 4
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 is a seat for a single person which 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 seat 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 15thCentury, Carved Gothic styles and high-backed straight cathedral chairs were typical.
Chairs became more refined, comfortable and decorative, during the Renaissance. 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.
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.
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.
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 plywood, metal, steel, plastic and glass started being used for the structure while microfiber, suede and upholsteries like leather, linen, chenille, velvet were being used for finishing.
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: