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How Chair-ming! 7 Iconic Chairs That Changed the World of Interior Design

Stephanie Kratz
|
May 20, 2020

Are you looking for the perfect statement chair for your living or office space? Why not get some inspiration from the iconic chairs that made history.

In this post, you'll discover seven iconic chairs that took the furniture industry by storm. Without further adieu, we present seven iconic chairs that changed the world of interior design.

1. Thonet 209 by Michael Thonet 

The Thonet 209 designed in 1900 by Austro-German cabinetmaker Michael Thonet, pioneered function, comfort, and a sleek design style into one chair.

The chair became a product of the evolution of technology. In a heartbeat, plywood and plastic could be molded into creative, sophisticated shapes impossible to do before.

Now designers could bend wood by steam. It was this revolutionary process that enabled Thonet to introduce the beautiful curvature design represented in this piece.

He constructed the chair from six curved pieces of wood. The sculptural pieces bowed together made this design one of the most iconic and popular design styles.

Found in many of today's contemporary bistros, representations of the Thonet 209 make a great statement in contemporary and eclectically designed homes.

2. The Wassily by Marcel Breuer

Out of the Bauhaus movement, the Wassily was designed by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer in 1925. He also designed New York's original Whitney Museum of American Art.

Breuer used his carpentry skills and the visual image of bicycle handlebars as his inspiration when he created the Wassily Chair. He constructed the Wassily by bending tubular steel for the framework of the chair.

But many felt his creation looked more like an artistic minimalist metal structure rather than a chair.The chair continues to be manufactured today by Knoll Group and sold for around $2,400.

3. The Cesca (B32) by Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer’s designed the Cesca that he brought to market in 1928 just three years after the Wassily. He named the chair after his adopted daughter Francesca. Her nickname was Cheska.

Similar to the Wassily, he designed the frame of the Cesca with tubular steel. The difference: he used leather panels. The design gave the illusion the person who sat on the chair was floating in mid-air.

Also called the B32, it became the first mass-produced design chair. Soon, many stylish and wealthy homeowners could purchase it.

Today, one of the original Cesca chairs sits on display in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The Knoll Group, formerly Knoll Associates at the time bought the chair in 1968.

4. Barcelona Chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich

In 1929 another masterpiece was born: the Barcelona Chair. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and German interior designer Lilly Reich received nods for its originality.

Earlier, Bauhaus designers focused on combining industrial design with art for the common home. But the team wanted their design to appeal to the elite.

Originally designed for the Barcelona Expo as a seat of Spanish royalty, the chair is still produced today by the Knoll Group.

What makes the Barcelona Chair's design remarkable is its scissor shape brilliantly constructed in a frame made of one piece of stainless steel on each side of the chair.

Ideal for sitting or sleeping, the iconic chair provides comfort and exceptional style not to be missed. It rocked the interior design world at the turn of the century and it will rock the look of any. 21st century home.  

Look for the Knoll logo with the van der Rohe signature etched in metal for the seal of authenticity.

5. The Eames Lounge Chair and Shell Chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Big, bold and sophisticated is the only way to describe this iconic chair designed by the notable husband and wife design team, Charles and Ray Eames. The Eames Lounge Chair is no ordinary chaise. 

That's why so many designers attempt to replicate it. The designers had one goal in mind: the chair should fit like a baseball glove.

A leader of the 1950s mid-century modernist movement, the style still thrives in designer showrooms today.

But the Eams's didn't stop with a comfortable, functional chaise. They introduced the shell chair in the same decade. The designers created the chair by molding plywood paired with the newest technologies.

By using plastic resin, they designed a sleek and smooth L-shaped seat. This made the chair both affordable and a work of art. It also awarded it a blue ribbon in the MoMA competition. A great piece in the kitchen and a hit in stylish office decor.

6. Lady Chair by Marco Zanuso

Italian rubber manufacturer Pirelli brainstormed ideas with Italian designer Marco Zanuso to create Pirelli's Arflex furniture piece made of foam rubber.  Marco Zanuso designed the iconic Lady Chair in 1951 as a result of their brainstorm.

The Lady Chair is designed with smart form and function: short metal legs a seat constructed of comfortable foam rubber. 

You may have seen the Lady Chair upholstered in an opulent jeweled fabric. Undoubtedly, one of the most feminine chairs ever created.

7. The Egg by Arne Jacobsen

As modernism evolved and hard-edged chair designs gave way to softer lines, a Danish architect and designer named Arne Jacobsen brought the timeless Egg to the furniture market in 1958. His aim: to create the perfect shape and structure. 

He first worked in clay to mold the shell's ideal shape he would later apply to the piece. At first, the public and critics viewed the chair as futuristic. However, it soon became a classic, timeless design.

Sixty years later, replications of the functional egg design sit in modern showrooms, interior decor magazines, and are sold in stores today. The originals are displayed in the most distinguished museums.

Once a status symbol showcasing architectural genius. Now a stylish statement in well-designed homes. 

The Takeaway on Seven Iconic Chairs That Changed the World of Interior Design

We hope these seven iconic chairs provided some design inspiration. Perhaps now you have more ideas about how to add sophistication and style to your living space or office decor.

Do you still need help pulling the perfect look together? View our portfolio or contact our design team today.

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