Probably the most basic and widely used pieces of furniture, the chair serves the functional purpose of providing seating. In its simplicity there lies the freedom to diverge from convention, essentially making chairs a blank canvas that can easily be morphed based on the preferences and ideas of their designers. Works by architects tend to exemplify this flexibility who implant their architectural philosophies into the relatively small dimensions of chairs.
As a result, a more singular and personal quality is present. They’re elevated from simply seats to “pieces”, works of art that simultaneously serve the practical function of providing comfortable seating. Below is a collection of 10 iconic chairs, whose designers speak through every element of these captivating pieces of furniture:
Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen
Designed by one of the grandfathers of modern Danish furniture and the minimalist Danish style, the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair was the culmination of new and unconventional design techniques. Jacobsen first sculpted the chair out of clay in his garage in order to perfect the shape. He then molded it out of a strong foam inner shell under the upholstery, which resulted in a unique shape that can provide privacy regardless of environment. The Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair also provides a sculptural contrast to the vertical and horizontal surfaces present in many buildings.
Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner
Inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting on Ming Chairs, Danish designer, Hans Wegner, developed the Wishbone Chair, which has been in production by his firm Carl Hansen & Søn since 1950. The chair is comprised of a steam-bent solid wood frame and a seat handwoven from paper cord, which combine to provide the utmost sitting comfort and lasting durability.
Panton Chair by Verner Panton
Conceived by Verner Panton in 1960, the Panton Chair is an icon of twentieth-century design. The S-shaped, plastic chair was the world’s first moulded plastic chair; a design based on the desire to create a stackable, cantilevered plastic chair. The Panton Chair’s prominence is reflected in its numerous international design awards and presence in the collections of many prominent museums.
Jacobsen Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen
The second Arne Jacobsen piece on this list is the Jacobsen Series 7 Chair. It is the most popular chair in the history of Danish furniture company, Fritz Hansen, and quite possibly also in furniture history. The Series 7 is stackable and features a seat in pressure moulded wood veneer. It comes in different veneers and finishes, making this masterpiece suitable for a variety of tastes and preferences.
Wegner PP130 Circle Chair by Hans Wegner
Hans Wegner’s PP130 Circle Chair features elements both old and new within his body of work. The lounge chair features a net of pleated flag lines with steel clips, an ash wood frame and removable seat, and headrest cushions upholstered in the original fabric. It also has casters on the back legs allowing it to be moved around. Wenger believed the circle was the most simple and elegant of all shapes, and designing a chair of that form was a long held dream of his. The design for the Circle Chair wasn’t completed until he was 72, and despite difficulties in its manufacturing, the chair turned out to be one of Wegner’s most iconic designs.
Finn Juhl Pelican Chair by Finn Juhl
Finn Juhl’s Pelican Chair reflects the designer’s fascination for surrealism, making it one of his most innovative pieces. Originally presented in 1940, the chair stands out with its unusual shape, resembling that of a Pelican, and sturdy legs. Its characteristic soft and organic shape is almost like a body holding a body. Offering several comfortable ways to sit, sitting in the Pelican Chair is like receiving a friendly hug.
Wegner PP225 Flag Halyard Chair by Hans Wegner
Hans Wegner’s Flag Halyard Chair pays homage to the ideas of early modernists, such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. Remaining clearly a Wegner piece, the chair’s surfaces are made of plaited flag halyard with the longhaired sheepskin softening the industrial sharpness of the steel. Inspired by a make-shift seat he made by digging into sand while at the beach, the Flag Halyard Chair is made for comfort and relaxation. The chair comes with pillow straps in the same leather as the neck pillow, and a white or colored sheepskin can be selected.
Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck
The Louis Ghost Chair is a postmodern triumph of technical innovation and historical style as it reinvents the classic Louis XVI armchair. This translucent rendition is a robust chair with a medallion backrest for leisurely comfort. Both ironic and elegant in its appropriation of its more regal predecessor, the Louis Ghost Chair is made to captivate and dazzle. It’s suitable for indoor and outdoor use in both residential and commercial settings.
Chair 69 by Alvar Aalto
Chair 69 is one of Artek’s most popular chairs. Designed by Alvar Aalto, it’s a universal wooden chair in the tradition of classic kitchen and café chairs. Chair 69 exudes durability and stability while remaining elegant with its broad seat and supportive backrest. It’s available in a variety of colors and finishes.
The Spanish Chair by Børge Mogensen
For The Spanish Chair, Børge Mogensen was inspired while on a journey through Spain by traditional chairs with wide armrests, which were common in areas influenced by ancient Islamic culture. Mogensen combined this with his earlier works and signature functionalism to form The Spanish Chair. Its wooden construction achieves a sturdy design and enduring character, and its broad armrests serve the practical function of holding items such as glasses or ashtrays. The chair has a leather seat and backrest, which contribute to its rustic character.