Known for its antiquity and simplicity, the chair has been used for centuries and is a stalwart of homes and offices around the world. Whilst now widely considered an object of ordinary use, it has throughout history been an emblem of power and dignity. Sketch Studios, best known for providing stylish, well-considered furniture solutions for offices and workplaces, understands the need to be tasteful yet practical – different chairs can dictate the mood and purpose of an environment, and play an important role in portraying the character and identity of individuals and businesses. Here, Sketch Studios chooses its 10 most influential chairs of all time …
1. Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, Charles and Ray Eames
Designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1956, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman have become iconic with modern style and design. Now part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, it was the first chair that the brothers designed for the high-end market. It now costs around $4500 dollars, and has remained in continuous production since its creation.
2. Aeron Chair, Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf
Nicknamed the ‘Dot-Com Throne’ thanks to its popularity amongst web start-ups during the late 1990s, the Aeron Chair was designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf in 1994. What sets this chair apart is that 94% of it is recyclable, and almost two thirds of it is made out of recycled materials. It became synonymous with the modern, trendy offices that appeared in the dot-com era.
3. Wassily or Model B3 Chair, Marcel Breuer
Heading back to the mid-20s, we arrive at the birth of the Wassily or Model B3 Chair, created by German, Marcel Breuer. Made from bent tubular steel and canvas, the chair was revolutionary in terms of materials, and like many other designs of the modernist movement has been mass-produced since the late 1920s.
4. Wishbone chair, Hans Wegner
The Wishbone chair was the first collaboration between world-renowned Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner and maker Carl Hansen. In 1944 Wegner began a series of chairs inspired by a portrait of Danish merchants sitting in traditional Ming chairs. The last and most distinct of this series is the Wishbone chair. His work has often been described as 'Organic Functionality' and the Wishbone Chair stays true to this ethos.
5. DSR, Charles and Ray Eames
The second Eames design to make the top 10 is the ubiquitous DSR. The initials stand for Dining Side Rod and it has a distinctive chrome base, which has given it the nickname, the ‘Eiffel’ chair. Few designs have the universal appeal that the DSR commands, and its versatility means it can be used in a variety of settings. It was one of the very first industrially-produced plastic chairs.
6. Swan chair, Arne Jacobsen
Originally designed by Arne Jacobsen for the lobby of the Radisson hotel in Copenhagen, The Swan chair is now widely produced for domestic use. The commission included the design of every element of the hotel building as well as the furniture, and was Jacobsen’s grand opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and architecture into practice. It was designed alongside the infamous Egg chair.
7. Wood chair, Marc Newson
Coming in at number seven is Marc Newson’s wood chair. Both an elegant lounge chair and a sculptural artwork, the chair incorporates Newson’s infamous design style, known as biomorphism. This style uses smooth flowing lines, translucency, strength and transparency, and tends to have an absence of sharp edges.
8. Tulip chair, Eero Saarinen
Another entry from the modernist era is Eero Saarinen’s tulip chair, often termed ‘space age’ due to its futuristic curves and artificial materials which still manage to look modern today. It was originally designed to address the “ugly, confusing, unrestful world” he saw underneath chairs and tables or the so-called “slum of legs”. By putting a chair on a pedestal, Saarinen felt he had re-harmonised the relationship between and table and its chairs.
9. Oh Void chair, Ron Arad
Designed in 2003 by Ron Arad, the Oh Void chair was made in carbon fibre and satisfied Aran’s interest in making a large form that was strong yet incredibly light in weight. More of an art form than a practical piece of furniture, Arad has demonstrated how the use of specific materials affects structure appearance and the perception of a unique form.
10. MR lounge chair, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The final chair to complete the list is the MR lounge chair, designed in 1927 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It represents some of the earliest steel furniture designs by Mies van der Rohe and was inspired by some of fellow designer Breuer’s designs. It is often thought to be the modern derivative of the 19th Century rocking chair.
Justin Bass, MD of Sketch Studios, comments: “The chair is one of the most iconic pieces of furniture ever made, and has existed for centuries. In today’s world, many people lead an increasingly sedentary lifestyle in front of their computer screens, and so the style and design of chair are extremely important. Good ergonomics – and also a variety of different seating areas within the workplace – can improve comfort, and often increase productivity.”