The continuous evolvement of the design of a chair throughout history is integral to development of society, it is in my opinion the perfect way to illustrate the natural progression of the different periods that we have lived through and the societies we live in.
"The chair is witness to the evolution of interiors, technical progress, materials and society. Over the centuries, furniture has evolved from the simple archetypal forms addressing only the most bare-bones needs to increasingly decorative pieces that reflected shifting political powers and tastes of sovereigns, to the domestication and eventual democratization of society" Christophe Pourny
A brief history of the chair:
- Pre-12th Century: Seats were primarily three-legged stools or benches. They were primitive, crudely made, and purely functional.
- 12th-15th centuries: Seats added backs and four legs to become chairs. Gothic styles influenced furniture, which was often carved. High-backed and very straight cathedral chairs were typical.
- 16th- 17th centuries: As the Renaissance thrived, chairs became more refined and more decorative. Looks became as important as function. The church was no longer the only patron of the arts; noblemen were, too. But European kings, particularly the French line of Louis XIII, XIV, XV, wielded the greatest influence. Louis XIV introduced luxurious ornamentation, veneers, rich fabrics, exotic wood, stones, gold and silver.
- 18th Century: This period took that richness and formality even further. Monarchs ushered in Rococo forms, curved lines, floral decorations and even more ornamentation. Instead of owning just one kind of chair, the middle and upper classes now had several kinds of seating.
Rococo Venetian Shell Chair
- 19th Century: After the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire emerged. Heavy, straight neoclassical lines replaced Rococo frippery. Large, Empire chairs became popular. Around mid-century, the Victorian era took hold, with its opulent displays of wealth.
- 20th Century: No longer associated with sovereigns, furniture design came into the hands of the people. The century started with arts and craft styles. Chairs' severe lines were a reaction to Victorian excesses and reflected industrialism. Art nouveau, modernism, art deco and Bauhaus followed. After World War II, mid-century modernism took off. Its function first, forthright, minimalist look fit the nation's mood. Chairs were light and sleek and featured new, inventive materials: molded plywood, plastic and chrome.
Bauhaus - The modernist movement 1919-1933