7 Iconic Dining Chairs Throughout History

Table Talks
August 30, 2022
Celine Nanena

There are some things you could potentially forgo in your home. For example, not everyone has to have a bathtub or a desk. But when it comes to the bare bones of a residence, a dining chair is one of the essentials you just can’t go without! A dining chair can be many things, but to live through decades of fanfare it must certainly be visually striking, comfortable, functional and like a sculpture of sorts. 

Here we explore some of society's most influential dining chairs - none of which can be classified as ordinary. Instead, they are iconic pieces of art that will continue to grace our homes for decades to come!

The Wishbone Chair

Hans Wegner is a Danish design icon who made a name for himself in the mid-century modern style for his Wishbone Chair, which has been widely replicated since the 1950s. Wegner was inspired by the photographs of Chinese emperors seated on wide and high-backed thrones of the Ming Dynasty. So, he designed his version using 395 ft of paper cord for the seat, a bentwood armrest, and a wishbone-shaped back, cementing Wegner's status as one of the biggest names in the industry.

Hans J Wegner Wishbone Chair

The Wishbone Chair was a near instant success from its ergonomically-minded wooden frame and woven seat, which made it soft and comfortable. Its timeless form and minimalism are featured in Japandi-style homes for their sleek and natural elements. The muted colour palettes and curved, sharp angles streamline Japanese rustic minimalism and Scandinavian design, perfect for the aesthetics of the Japandi hybrid trend.

The Tolix Chair

Frenchman Xavier Pauchard combines practicality with timeless French industrial metal style in his Model A design. It is made from robust sheets of metal, which can be stacked and used indoors and outdoors, featuring holes in the seat for the rain to drain off. Taking feedback from the original model, Pauchard created the second series which could stack the chairs 2.3 meters high. The new model was a success and went from strength to strength.

Model A Chair

The Tolix chair has become a worldwide favourite in restaurants, bars, and homes thanks to its hard wearing retro-chic modern design. The original 1934 design is iconic and appreciation for it has become widespread. They can be placed in your dining room, home office, kitchen, patio, backyard, or as quirky accents in the living room, bedroom, and entryway.

The Bertoia Chair

Harry Bertoia is an Italian-born American furniture designer who created five wire chairs in the 1950s, which became iconic for their structure and exceptional lightness. This mid-century modern design can be used as a dining chair or statement piece, and you've likely seen it being used across a multitude of interior design styles. Its minimal fabrication allows light to effortlessly flow through it, making it choice for spaces that could use a little lightness.

Bertoia Side Chair

Beloved worldwide for its delicate-yet-tough design, it is available in black, white, chrome, powder-coated colours and with seat pads, making it highly versatile.

The Tulip Chair

Eero Saarinen designed the Tulip Chair in the mid-1950s, its most notable characteristic is its futuristic shape. It is part of the designer’s Pedestal collection, including the Tulip Armchair, Stool, Dining Table, Coffee Table and Side Table completed in 1958. The chair has a flute-like base and a sculptural moulded fibreglass seat reminiscent of the flower it is named after. It perfectly straddles the line between retro and modern when used in this day and age.

Eero Saarinen Tulip Chair

Tremendous thought went into producing this chair, hence the iconic feature of a swivel base. The piece was made so that it was not only aesthetically pleasing but functional for daily living. Instead of most conventional designs, the Finnish architect is known worldwide for his curvy and twistable chairs.

The Ming Dynasty Chair

The Ming dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644, significantly impacting design history as Ming Dynasty furniture became historic worldwide. Known for their simple lines and subtle curves, these historic chairs showcase an ingenious joinery systems that employ seamless construction and have transcended time and trends. Once the seat of nobility, they are just as relevant bringing an austere presence into the home.

Neo Ming Dynasty Chair by PAYA

This particular Neo-Ming Dynasty Chair has been expertly hand-made using mortise and tenon joinery alongside reclaimed wood. It embraces the tenets of wabi-sabi furniture, demonstrating that reclaimed wood still has many beautiful years to offer.

The Norman Cherner Chair

The Cherner chair is one of the most elegant and sculptural designs of all time, making them serious contenders for the world's best dining chairs. The curvy shape and sleek simplicity of these iconic chairs are made from moulded plywood by American designer Norman Cherner, who designed them in 1958.

The Cherner Chair

The Cherner Chair is available in Classic Walnut, Ebony and Stella orange. It’s warm and humble appeal makes it a dear choice for any home.

The Ercol Dining Chair

The classic silhouette of an Ercol dining chair is unmistakable. This iconic chair design complements both traditional and contemporary decor. Thanks to Ercol still producing its mid-century classics and modern versions for the 21st century, there is a range of lacquered finishes to choose from, including bold yellow, navy, or white to adda splash of colour. This chair is perfect for rustic and farmhouse aesthetics, exuding a laid-back and comforting aura.

The Quaker Dining Chair

The quaker dining chair uses a tall, u-shaped, six-spindle back and sculpted oval seat for support. It is a timeless classic that is as relevant and functional now as it was when it was first produced.

To the untrained eye, a chair is just a chair. But these iconic chairs have stood the test of time, have come of age, and continue to impress and inspire our lifestyle. Enduring style is hard to come by, but these have a permanent spot in design history for striking functional features, as well as fascinating stories and deep roots behind them. They are quite frankly symbols of art.

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery