The Story Behind the Chair You’re Sitting On

The story behind the chair you're sitting on.

Can you remember a time when the purpose of a chair has extended beyond a place to sit? I can. I recall bosses, teachers, doctors, tutors, lawyers all utilizing the chair to elicit power or authority.

“Chair” is technically defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a separate seat for one person typically with a back and four legs.  I could have guessed.  But, if you dig deeper into the realms of history and civilization, you’ll find a chair means so much more.

A chair, in essence, a tool that keeps us from sitting on the floor, is believed to have first originated during the stone age.  A chair, unlike a bed or nest, marks the developments of civilization (Random History). Think about it– what other species, besides us, has created a tool simply for sitting, not for laying down and sleeping, but for sitting only and not on the floor?  I can’t think of one.

The chair has evolved from the role of basic seat to monument, culture, status and style. Think of thrones, board rooms, dining areas, movie stars. Over the centuries, what began as a simple bench evolved into a system of hierarchy, particularly within the “elite” groups of societies: “Armchairs, with or without cushions were reserved for the rich and powerful” (Ancient Egypt: Furniture).

Furniture: the chair, its history and styles

The throne of King Charles III of Spain (1770s)

A step further into the Renaissance period, lays the veil of art and design on the concept of the chair.  With time, “inlaid decorative elements and ornate carving became more common. Most importantly, at the same time, chairs were simply becoming ‘more common as life became more sociable'” (Random History, de Dampierre 2006), and easier to create as humans developed improved carpentry devices, industry and marketing (my own common sense based theory). 

Baroque chair in Castle Sanssouci living room.

Baroque chair in Castle Sanssouci living room.

I imagine a chair that I would love to have in the corner of my room simply as form of intimate self-expression and stylistic luxury. Alas, it is a luxury, so this imaginary chair’s existence rests theoretically in the future.

The Chair: its History and many Designs

It’s an imaginary chair; it’s allowed to be pink and baroque!

How nice, though, that we can all enjoy the luxury of a chair today.

A Collection of Chairs

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Remember, Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree?

Remember, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree?

The Chair: its History and many Designs

The Chair: its History and many Styles

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld armchair (1918)

The Chair: its History and many DesignsThe Chair: its History and many Designs

The bean bag revolution!  I had a vinyl purple one.

The bean bag revolution! I had a vinyl purple one.

The Chair: its History and many Designs

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Now, chair usage is open to the public!

The Chair: its History and many Designs

The Chair: its History and many Designs

The Chair: its History and many Designs

…the dreaded office chair…

The Chair: its History and many Designs

More Baroque!

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Chairs as sculpture

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Deco garden chair

The Chair: its History and many Designs

One of the most important chairs ever designed, the wheelchair.

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Check this out, pinning stuff your selling to an old vintage chair to bring out style and stand out.

Check this out, pinning stuff your selling to an old vintage chair to bring out style and stand out.

The Chair: its History and many Designs

Chairs as art? Seems to be working.

Chairs as art? Seems to be working.

It seems chairs aren’t just for humans anymore…

Gummy bear tanning.

Gummy bear tanning.

The Chair: its History and many Designs

What would the royals have to say about a dog using a chair?!

Have you taken the time recently to notice if your style of chairs is evolving?  Is there a chair you see yourself sitting in five years from now?

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