Take a journey through time with my review of 10 of the most iconic chairs over the past century
1903 The Hill House Chair
Hill House 1 Chair was designed in 1903 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The chair is named after the Hill House in Scotland, which Mackintosh also designed. The chair with its exaggerated high back, was designed primarily as an art piece rather than a functional piece. With its ladder style, high back, the chair was quite ground breaking in its day.
Whilst this style may not be practical for your every day dining area, it would make a fabulous feature piece – it is quite a work of art!
The chair is made of lacquered ash wood and the seat is upholstered in leather. It is manufactured by Cassina and is available from Smow for Euro 1,835.
1917 The Red and Blue Chair
The Red and Blue Chair was designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917. It was originally constructed of unstained beech wood and the bright colours were added around 1923. The chair represents one of the first forays by the De Stijl (‘the Style’) art movement into a three dimensional format. (The De Stijl movement is not one of my favourite artistic styles, but it still has its place in design history nevertheless).
1924 The LC4 Chaise Lounge
One of my favourites, the LC4 Chaise Lounge was designed in 1928 by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret.
When the Chaise was shown almost 90 years ago at the Paris Autumn Salon, it received mixed reactions. The steely construction contradicted former views on beauty and it was mostly met with significant rejection. However some people recognised the revolutionary potential of the design and embraced it. Over ninety years later the LC4 has become an icon of design history and makes a seductive addition to any contemporary home or office.
The only licensed producer of the LC4 Chaise is Italian manufacturer Cassina and it is priced at 3,975 Euro for leather and 4,245 Euro for the cow hide finish.
Replicas are available from about AUD$400 to $1,800 although quality will vary.
1929 The Barcelona Chair
One of my all time favourites, the Barcelona Chair was designd by Mies Van der Rohe in 1929. The chair was originally designed for the International Exposition of 1929 which was hosted in Barcelona, Spain – which is why it is known as the Barcelona chair.
Mies Van der Rohe was part of the Bauhaus movement which espoused the ideology that form follows function and their furnishings were designed for the common man. However, the Barcelona chair was an exception to this philosophy because it was designed for seating the Spanish royalty to observe the opening ceremonies of the International Exposition.
I love the timelessness and simplicity of this piece. Even though it was designed in 1929 it is completely at home in any modern interior.
Knoll is the licensed manufacturer of the Barcelona chair, although there is a large replica market in relation to this design. Knoll’s Barcelona chairs are available at approximately US$5,500 (pictured here) and replicas are available from about AUD$600 for the lower quality versions.
1955 The Tulip Arm Chair
The Tulip Arm Chair was designed in 1955 by Eero Saarinen. It was an icon of its time and its space-age look saw it featured in the 1960’s TV series Star Trek.
It was inspired by organic design yet is made from modern materials including fibreglass with a vinyl cushion. Other cushions are also available.
The chair has a very ‘retro’ appearance and with this style’s current resurgence it would look great in any home or commercial interior.
Chairs manufactured by Knoll are available from US$1,733. There is also a strong market in replicas which start at about AU$180 from Modernistic.
1948 The Eames DSW Chair
So hot right now – with the simplicity of Scandinavian style being in vogue at the moment the Eames DSW chair fits perfectly with this style. It was designed in 1948 by Charles Eames and has stood the test of time, being one of the most popular chair styles this season.
This chair is available in a variety of colours and a variety of wooden dowel legs.
The version depicted here is manufactured under licence from Herman Miller and is priced at AUD$830 from Living Edge.
There is also a significant market in replicas of this design ranging from AUD$30 from Interior Secrets to $59 from Sokol.
1956 The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman were designed by Charles and Ray Eames and released in 1956 after many years of development. According to Charles, his vision was for a chair with a ‘warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt’. I think he got it right.
The pieces are made of molded plywood and leather and are available in a variety of veneers and leather finishes.
These pieces are timeless and would be at home in any contemporary lounge or office.
The only two companies that currently manufacture the pieces with the Eames name attached, are Herman Miller and Vitra. Herman Miller prices range from US$4,935 to $5,885.
There is also a large replica market for these pieces and replicas are available from about AUD$579 from Milan Direct to AUD$1,995 from Matt Blatt. The level of quality of the replicas will vary.
1958 The Egg Chair
The Egg Chair, designed in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen was originally created for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
Its size and unique shape makes it a great statement piece in any modern interior.
This example is a replica available from Matt Blatt and is upholstered in wool fabric and is priced at AU$795. The replica chair is available in other finishes including:
- cashmere – AUD$1,650
- leather – AUD$1,995
- cowhide – AUD$3,695
1963 The Ball Chair
The Ball Chair remains as iconic today as when it was designed by Eero Aarnio in 1963. It was designed to be a ‘room within a room’. It provides a cosy and serene atmosphere and blocks out external noises. It is perfect for relaxing or taking phone calls.
Despite its space-like appearance, this chair would suit many modern residential or commercial interiors.
The chair is made of fibreglass with interior wool upholstery and is manufactured by Adelta under licence.
Replicas are available, for instance from Matt Blatt for AUD $1,650. However, replicas do have a different shaped base than the licensed version.
2002 The Louis Ghost Chair
The Louis Ghost chair, designed by Philippe Starck in 2002, is a modern take on the French Louis XV style. Its simplicity means that it will work in any environment and it is great for decorating small spaces without being too intrusive.
The chair is available from Kartell starting at US$450. It is also available in other tints and solid black and solid white.
There is also a strong market in replicas of the Ghost chair although in many cases they are replicas of Philippe Starck’s Victoria Ghost chair which is an armless version of the chair.