The Importance of Chair Design

Of all the furniture in your home, there is perhaps nothing that is as immediately arresting to the eye as your choice of chairs – and particularly dining chairs and dining room furniture.

ChairsImage: furnishinghomes.co.uk

Quite why this is is difficult to fathom. The chair is, after all, a mainly functional piece of furniture; somewhere to park yourself while you get on with the serious business of eating – or to sit on while you chat, watch TV, read or simply relax. And there are many styles that suite this utilitarian (or some might say “boring”) functionality. But there are far more chairs around that are very big on design indeed. In fact, there are probably no other items in the world of interior design that demand quite so much attention as the humble chair.

But chairs weren’t always so humble and the clues to previously high status chairs enjoyed lie in the different meanings of the word. For thousands of years, chairs were reserved for people of great importance, indicating their high status. And the word is still used to convey that importance as in “Chair” man, or “chairing” a meeting etc.

In fact, chairs didn’t come into everyday usage for most people until the 16th century. Before this time, benches and stools were generally used and the clue is in the name again as in “back benches” for the House of Commons having distinctly inferior status to the Speaker’s “Chair”.


But it’s really with the advance of materials technology that chairs have begun to enjoy such high design status. And nothing speaks more of your tastes than the chair design you go for. For example, are you a solid oak, “feet-on-the-ground”, steady type, or a trendy sleek type – or maybe a fun-loving plastic pop art type?

The next time you buy a chair, have a think about this. You can buy cheap dining tables online or other furnishings that say relatively little about you – but the humble chair says quite a lot!

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