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Chairs that made the history of design

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Chairs have been an integral part of every home since people could afford them instead of stools that were first used for sitting. Chairs are used for a wide variety of purposes around the house and offices but since time immemorial their size and grandeur has been used to signify stature or position of the person that uses it. Kings, queens and rich people have had special chairs or thrones made for them with unique materials and fabrics which are still a part of their palace museums and homes. But the most memorable chairs are those that were created by talented craftsmen and have stood the test of time due to their unique design and versatility and still hold place of pride with collectors. Here are a few chair designs that have entered the history books of chairs.

Wassily armchair by Marcel Breuer

The Wassily armchair is a piece of classic furniture that was created by Marcel Breuer in 1925 just after he completed apprenticeship at Bauhaus carpentry. During his tenure as a master at the Bauhaus Dessau between 1924 and 1928 he experimented with steel and other industrial materials to create lightweight metal furniture pieces. This chair’s comfortable design is inspired by balanced structure of bicycle seat and handle bar that appears suspended in mid-air but is neatly able to balance an individual through rough terrain. Marcel Breuer designed a fluid chair structure which is made out of tubular metal with tight leather backrest. The armrests and seat are also made in the same manner to give a simplistic appearance to the chair. Marcel named it Wassily chair in honor of his friend and painter at Bauhaus, Vasily Kandinsky.

Thonet Chair

Michael Thonet’s creations made out of bending wooden pieces and gluing them together were considered very fashionable during the early 1930’s. His ability to make elegant and lightweight furniture like chairs and tables unlike the ornate and heavily carved furniture of that time appeals  to people even a couple of centuries after his death. The curved arch of wood on the backrest and below the seat is most unique feature of the Thonet chair which is also its trademark. This curved piece of wood used in the chair made by Wood Art is made by using steam bend technology under which these slim pieces of wood are given different shapes by exposing them to controlled steam pressure. The most popular of Thonet’s chair is the No.14 which earned a special place in history due to several layers of wood bent into beautiful shapes and laminated together to create curved back rest and rings around chairs and other furniture.

Mies Van Der Rohe chair

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Barcelona chair – Mies Van Der Rohe


Barcelona chair designedby Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe is made out of leather and is placed on a chrome steel frame. This chair is a unique example of furniture that was designed for presentation at the International Exposition of 1929 hosted in Spain. As the exhibition was held in the city of Barcelona the chair was given that name and was first used at a World Heritage Site Villa Tugendhat at Czech Republic.

Early creations of Barcelona chairs were made with pigskin leather which was placed on steel frames that were bolted together. But to give them a more seamless appearance the frame was redesigned later which continues till now in which the steel plates are just enmeshed on the sides. The design was originally patented in Europe and United States by Mies himself but in 1953 he sold the design and patent to Knoll which currently holds the trademarks for the Barcelona chair.

Tulip chair by Saarinen

The elegant and aesthetically pleasing Tulip chair created by Eero Saarinen nearly fifty years ago still holds promise and appeal with its futuristic design. Inspired by the delicate tulip flower, the chair’s base is designed like a wineglass stem as its creator Saarinen wanted to avoid clutter of legs that is common in all chairs. Though the creator wanted to create the chair as a single unit from fiberglass, the material was too fragile to support the structure. To make the base of this minimalist chair stronger it is made out of aluminum and is attached to the upper shell which is made of moulded fiberglass and given a professional finish so that the chair appears as if it is a made of a single unit. The foam cushion on these chairs is fastened by Velcro that can be changed when the material wears out.

Fauteuil LC1Armchair by Le Corbusier

This iconic LC1 Sling chair designed by the combined effort of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand came into existence in 1928 and is among few historic chairs that has not undergone any changes in design or materials. Characterised by slim leather straps which act as the handle, the chair itself is made out of steel and has a clean clutter free structure which is lightly curved at the base to provide support to the spine.

The chair is instantly recognisable for its strong geometrical shapes and lightweight body with slim seat and back rest. Its best feature is the movable backrest and springs in the seat that allow user to move it up and down according to convenience. Its most distinguishing feature is the delicate looking structure which is unbelievably strong and can last a lifetime.

Chaise longue by Le Corbusier

The creative genius of Le Corbusier is immortalised not only by his exceptional building structures and gardens but also by the exquisite furniture pieces that have become fashion icons. These artistic creations were made to furnish building projects and give them a refined finish but they became famous in their own right. The most popular among these is the Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge made in collaboration with Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in 1928 which was referred to as relaxing machine by Le Corbusier due to its ability to stimulate body curves into perfect relaxation.  The LC4 chaise lounge has curved chrome base which supports a padded leather seat created to provide ultimate comfort. For a few more interesting chair designs visit this creative idea-book.

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