25 Iconic Chair Designs You Have Barely Seen

Updated On: May 17, 2024
It goes without saying that when you think about designing or renovating your home, you’re definitely going to need some chairs. You need to have that perfect chair that complements the design of your house that you can rest in.

From timeless classics that have bridged centuries to avant-garde creations that define modern aesthetics, our curated selection of 25 iconic chairs unveils the diverse spectrum of styles, eras, and global influences.

Ming Chair

Ming Chair - Types of Chairs

In the later years of the Ming dynasty’s reign over China, there was a notable surge in the creation of elaborately carved wooden furniture. The Ming chair features curved backs and folding seats, designs that significantly influence subsequent styles in the world of furniture.

Emeco Navy Chair

Emeco Navy Chair- Kinds of Chairs

You've probably seen this iconic navy chair in a local big-box store. Initially designed for use on warships, this chair underwent a massive 77-step manufacturing process, including melted recycled aluminium, for robust and lightweight precision. In the modern scenario, this chair fits perfectly and also adds a touch of vintage.

Louis XV Armchair

Louis XV Armchair- Different Kinds Of Chairs

Louis XV caused many changes in history, including the transformation of chairs. This era marked a departure from the rigidity of earlier styles, embracing a more fluid and elegant approach to chair design. This iconic armchair is an enduring icon of French furniture history, characterised by slanted backs and gracefully bowed cabriole legs.

Marcel Breuer Cesca Chair

Marcel Breuer Cesca Chair- Different Types of Chairs

Marcel Breuer, a Hungarian-American designer, revolutionised chair design with the Wassily chair. It is the first-ever chair crafted from tubular steel and stands on a cantilevered steel base with an S-shaped frame. It is such a unique design, in fact, that MoMA has added it to its permanent collection.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair - Various Types of Chairs

In the quest to furnish the German pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, German-American architect Mies van der Rohe envisioned a chair that exuded regal elegance yet remained faithful to his modernist principles. The result was the iconic leather-and-chrome seat, accompanied by an ottoman, which has been faithfully produced by Knoll ever since.

Windsor Chair

Windsor Chair - Iconic Chairs

The British always seem to have it nailed down right, especially this chair design with a spindled back. While the exact origins of this chair style remain somewhat shrouded in history, it is believed to have first emerged in the 16th century in Ireland and Wales and then brought to North America, where it steadily gained popularity.

Bistro Chair

Bistro Chair- Varieties of Chairs

Fermob’s Bistro Collection is crafted from top-quality, anti-corrosion-treated, painted, and galvanised iron, proving its commitment to durability and design longevity. The Bistro metal folding chair, a part of this collection, dates back to 1889, conceived in harmony with the other folding furniture pieces within the Bistro line.

Le Corbusier Group LC3 Grand Modele Armchair

Le Corbusier Group LC3 Grand Modele Armchair- Chair Styles

In collaboration with Charlotte Perriand, her heir, and the Fondatié²n Le Corbusier, Cassina has meticulously worked to introduce new versions and finishes of the LC3 Fauteuil Grand Confort, grand modé¨le armchair, which they affectionately refer to as 'cushion basket' due to its frame on the exterior and upholstery on the inside, creating a unique exoskeleton effect.

Charles and Ray Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair

Charles and Ray Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair- Different Chairs

The Aluminum Group chairs originated from a challenge presented to iconic designers Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard during the design of industrialist J. Irwin Miller’s home in Columbus, Indiana. Charles and Ray Eames were enlisted to create a high-quality outdoor seating solution, resulting in chairs constructed with cast aluminium and a pioneering seat-back suspension, deviating from the traditional solid shell concept.

IKEA Poé¤ng Armchair

IKEA Poé¤ng Armchair- Modern Types of Chairs

The POéNG armchair seamlessly blends design and comfort, featuring a layer-glued, bentwood frame that harmonises with the body’s contours, providing support to the neck and lower back. The unique material in the frame imparts a light, pleasant, and relaxing springiness to the chair, enhancing its overall appeal.

Adirondack Chair

Adirondack Chair- Chair Design Ideas

Adirondack chairs are an invitation to unwind in a blend of comfort and support. Crafted for leisure, their distinctive design boasts a high, expansive back, perfect for reclining and enveloping oneself in relaxation.
Beyond mere seating, these chairs become a sanctuary'a place to read, nap, engage in conversation, or savour moments around a crackling fire. Their appeal transcends the ordinary, offering a haven where one can lean back, escape the rush of daily life, and find solace in the simplicity of a well-designed chair.

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair

Hans Wegner Papa Bear Chair- Best Chair Design

Hans Wegner’s iconic Papa Bear Chair and Ottoman epitomise the exquisite harmony between comfort and aesthetic allure. With a legacy spanning three decades, these masterpieces are meticulously crafted in our California factory, employing time-honoured construction techniques.

The chair’s legs and paws showcase the enduring beauty of solid North American walnuts. At the same, the upholstery, crafted with high-density foam made in the USA, offers a plethora of choices, ranging from a diverse array of fabrics to luxurious leathers.

Philip Arctander Clam Chair

Philip Arctander Clam Chair- Iconic Chair Designs

The one chair that looks like it is made to sink into, the Clam Chair, made its debut in 1944 through a collaboration with Arctander’s grandson and Paustian’s founders. With velvety-soft contours and sheepskin representing the epitome of luxury, it comes in various colours and materials thoughtfully curated by Monika Paustian and Sofie Arctander Paustian.

Malawi Chair

Malawi Chair- Shapes of Chairs

The Malawian cane chair embodies authenticity and traditional charm. Crafted with an effortless yet intricately detailed wooden or bamboo frame, this chair seamlessly integrates into any room or deck, imparting a touch of genuine character to your living space.

Peacock Chair

Peacock Chair- Good Design Chair

Despite its regal and throne-like appearance, the Peacock chair’s origins are quite unknown, creating a mystery around its inception. While it was initially assumed to be crafted for Southeast Asian royalty, historical evidence suggests it was created by a German prisoner at Bilibid prison in Manila during the late 1800s, adding a layer of complexity to its fascinating history.

Jens Risom Risom Lounge Chair

Jens Risom Risom Lounge Chair- Types of Chairs

In 1943, Jens Risom introduced his iconic furniture collection in its first collaboration with Knoll. It played a pivotal role in establishing Knoll as an early pioneer of modern design in the United States. The Lounge Chair from Risom’s collection displays a combination of gentle curves and geometric angles, reflecting his distinct Scandinavian design sensibilities.

Eero Saarinen Tulip Chair

Eero Saarinen Tulip Chair- Kinds of Chairs

For the Knoll company in New York City, Eero Saarinen designed the Tulip chair in 1955 and 1956. Initially named the ‘Pedestal Group,’ Saarinen and Knoll later opted for the more organically inspired ‘Tulip chair’ to reflect its connection to nature. Saarinen’s vision with the Pedestal Collection aimed to eliminate the “slum of legs” typically found under chairs and tables with four legs.

Charles and Ray Eames Eames Lounge Chair

Charles and Ray Eames Eames Lounge Chair- Different Kinds of Chairs

The Eameses designed the iconic lounge chair and ottoman to be a luxurious and comfortable piece of furniture, released in 1956 and still popular today in various upholstery and finish options.

Louis XIV Armchair

Louis XIV Armchair- Different Types of Chairs

Furniture from the Louis XIV era, crafted during the reign of the monarch responsible for the construction of Versailles, is renowned for its intricate carving, exquisite wood, and substantial upholstery. A prime illustration of this style is seen in the walnut chair adorned with dark brocade fabric. It is recognisable by its straight backs, curved armrests, and crossed stretchers, which can take on H- or X-shaped configurations.

Butterfly Chair

Butterfly Chair- Different Styles of Chairs

Butterfly chairs are commonplace in high-end hotels to dorm rooms, showcasing their versatile design suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. As their popularity soared, these chairs became cultural icons, making appearances in various forms of media, from advertisements to album covers. The do-it-all design of the butterfly chair contributed to its widespread appeal and recognition in pop culture.

Philippe Starck Louis Ghost Chair

Philippe Starck Louis Ghost Chair- Various Types of Chairs

Also called the goé»t grec, it is inspired by the era of Louis XVI and is constructed as a single, unbroken piece. Kartell has expanded its Louis Ghost chair line to include a range of delicate translucent shades and solid hues in addition to the iconic crystal clear Lucite version.

Michael Thonet Era Chair

Michael Thonet Era Chair- Chair Styles

With over 150 years of continuous production, the Thonet Era Chair has withstood the test of time and quality. It has a remarkable bentwood construction that eliminates the need for intricate hand-carved joints, creating a graceful, lightweight, and remarkably strong piece.

Monobloc Chair

Monobloc Chair- Iconic Chairs

The Monobloc chair, designed by D. C. Simpson in 1946, became a global phenomenon in the 1970s when mass production took hold. With a mysterious origin story shared by various companies and designers, this white plastic chair is now ubiquitous worldwide, serving as an iconic, mass-produced seating solution found in European gardens, African cafes, and Asian restaurants alike.

PiPiero Gatti, Cesare Paolini, and Franco Teodoro Sacco Easy Chair

PiPiero Gatti, Cesare Paolini, and Franco Teodoro Sacco Easy Chair- Varieties of Chairs

Featured in the MoMA, the 'Sacco' beanbag chair is made of ‘Telafitta’ (a mix of cotton and nylon) with polystyrene beads inside. It was the most popular and widely imitated among all the new chair designs back in the 1960s and represents the bold creativity of designers who were trying to come up with new solutions for a world that was changing rapidly.

Frank Gehry Wiggle Side Chair

Frank Gehry Wiggle Side Chair- Different Chairs

Architect Frank Gehry experimented with scrap cardboard in the 1970s, creating strong stacks of cardboard by alternating its corrugation. This resulted in groundbreaking paper furniture, the Wiggle Chair, known for its serpentine S-shape and rough material.

Journey Through Time With Iconic Chair Designs

Your home deserves more than just a chair; it deserves a piece of design history, a conversation starter, a reflection of your style, and a source of comfort. Take a journey through time in our comprehensive guide to 25 iconic chairs, and find inspiration on which piece of history resonates with you the most.

As you navigate the diverse spectrum of styles and eras, you will see a testament to the craftsmanship, vision, and cultural influences that shape our surroundings. So, take a seat, and let these iconic chairs inspire you to appreciate the artistry.

Looking for some more inspiring home decor ideas? Get in touch with our experts at House Beautiful, crafting bespoke and livable designs for you and your loved ones.

*Images used are for illustration purposes only. House Beautiful does not hold any copyright to the images unless mentioned explicitly.

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    What role do iconic chairs play in interior design?

    Iconic chairs serve as focal points and become statement pieces in your house. They contribute to the overall aesthetic, creating a unique and curated atmosphere within a space.

    Are iconic chairs only suitable for specific design styles?

    No, iconic chairs can be versatile and adapt to various design styles. Whether your space is modern, traditional, eclectic, or minimalist, there are iconic chairs that can complement and enhance the overall aesthetic.

    Can I find iconic chairs within a budget?

    Yes, there are iconic chairs available at various price points. Some designers and manufacturers offer affordable reproductions or reinterpretations of iconic designs, making them accessible to a broader audience.

    How do I choose the right chair for my space?

    Take a minute to think about the overall design theme of your space, the intended use of the chair, and your personal style preferences. Look for a chair that complements your existing decor while providing the desired comfort and functionality.

    Can iconic chairs be used outdoors?

    Some iconic chairs are designed for outdoor use, utilising weather-resistant materials. However, it’s crucial to check the specifications of each chair to ensure it meets the requirements for outdoor placement. The Adirondack Chair and Emeco Navy Chair are great examples of iconic chairs suitable for outdoor placement.

    What is the most comfortable chair?

    Lounge chairs and recliners are the types of chair designs that can provide comfort and pinnacle of relaxation.

    Which type of chair is best for long sitting?

    Long working hours add stress to the structures in the spine. Therefore, select the best ergonomic office chairs that ensure you have a comfortable posture while working.

    What style of chair is best for reading?

    Chaise lounge, womb chair, lounge with ottoman, and wing chair are different types of chairs to lean back and enjoy the pleasure of reading.

    What should I look for when buying a chair?

    The right pieces of furniture can transform your abode. But there are some aspects you need to consider while buying  a chair

    • Measure and visualise the space
    • Consider your lifestyle and home decor
    • Pay attention to the fabric
    • Practicality and durability
    • Budget
    • Pick the right size and select an appropriate colour
    • Choose quality over price for a long-lasting nature.
    What makes a good chair design?

    The enduring appeal of a good chair design can be acknowledged by its function and aesthetics while addressing a particular set of needs.

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