A well-designed chair isn’t just a piece of furniture. It’s a work of art. There are hundreds of iconic pews that deserve places in gallery exhibitions, but today we’re celebrating ten that – in our opinion – are some of the best chair designs ever made.
Zero points for comfort, but kudos for originality. This intriguing design may look like the lovechild of a stool and a ladder, but there’s method in the madness. Inspired by the abstract graphics of Japanese design, Mackintosh combined the towering back with a resistant grid to create an intriguing yet functional frame.
ElleDecor describes its aesthetic as ‘something Darth Vader might wear at the beach’, which we have to admit is pretty spot on. But when Vader’s vacation ends, it makes the perfect office chair. Highly ergonomic, it’s designed to support posture during long periods of sitting. Better still, 94 per cent of its materials are recyclable.
Our much-loved master of minimalism, Henry Glass, is said to have been very impressed by Thonet’s nineteenth century furniture design. Made with just six pieces of steam-bent wood, ten screws and two nuts, the No. 14 is affordable and simple – making it one of the best-selling chairs ever made.
The original Egg was designed in 1958 for the Radisson Hotel, Denmark. Its enclosed structure was said to make it feel cosy and private, even in somewhere as busy as a hotel reception. Ever since then, its distinctive shape has kept it popular all over the world. Overall, we think it’s a cracking chair.
(Sorry about the dad joke. We’re a little ashamed.)
Another wacky wonder, also known as the S chair. Made with a single piece of cantilevered plastic with no back legs, it was completely unique when it first appeared. Its sleek form has since led it to be named ‘the sexiest chair ever made’. Perhaps it should be rebranded as the Pants-off.
More void than chair, surely this can’t be comfortable to sit on? Surprisingly, although its unique three-dimensional form is the main focus point, Grcic’s attention to ergonomics cements it as a perfectly functional seat. Speaking of cement, Chair One is made from a mix of metal and concrete – placing it solidly in our favourites list.
It looks a bit like a deck chair with wings, that was covered in glue and sat on by a yeti who proceeded to lose his back hair. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the coolest iconic chair designs ever. Wegner came up with the idea one hot summer afternoon at the beach. Nonetheless, it’s the kind of chair that belongs in winter-hued show home photography next to a cosy fireplace. We love it.
In the 1940s, Juhl famously regenerated Danish furniture design. The 45 was one of the first chairs that freed the seat from the frame, creating an elegant structure. It’s easy to see why this is such a celebrated piece of craftsmanship – the flowing curves of teak and seamless joinery are hard not to love.
Glass believed that his 1978 Cricket chair was one of the best designs of his career (along with hairpin legs, obviously). This highly efficient folding chair is a perfect example of his ability to create a stylish, comfortable piece of furniture that is also efficient to ship, assemble and store. Classic Glass purism.
Overall, the Eames’ aimed to meet the same objectives as Henry Glass – easily mass-produced and affordable furniture. This was their exception. This luxury chair combines high quality materials and craftsmanship to prioritise a warm, receptive feel. To this day, it’s widely recognised as one of the most iconic seats in the history of modern furniture, sitting it comfortably at the top of our list.
For further inspiring pieces on which to rest your caboose, check out this selection of The best chairs ever designed.
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