Top 10 Iconic Chairs
We can’t name all 100 of the top chairs that come to mind when people think of “iconic chairs”, so we’ve whittled our list down to the top 10 iconic chairs we think should be included in this list. This list is the culmination of statistic sampling and our own opinions on which chairs should be considered “iconic”.
Panton S Chair
The Panton S chair was created by Verner Panton in 1967. It was hailed as a sensation, epitomized the space age pop art of the 1960’s, and received numerous prizes. One of the earliest models is now in the collection of the MOMA in New York. Today the Panton S chair is regarded as a classic of modern furniture design.
The Diamond chair was “sculpted” by Harry Bertoia using steel rods and hand welding. It features a delicate filigreed appearance that’s supremely strong. In his art, Bertoia experimented with open forms and metal work, and these chairs were an extension of that work. “If you look at the chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture,” said Bertoia. “Space passes through them.”
Reproductions of this chair are also prohibitively expensive, which is why you don’t see as many copies floating around as the other 10 chairs on this list.
Molded Plastic Chair
Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, the Molded Plastic chairs were originally designed in metal, and entered as a prototype in MoMA’s 1948 International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design. Charles and Ray Eames believed that “design is a method of action,” and continually updated their work as new materials became available. They changed the material to fiberglass in 1950. Charles was dissatisfied with the fiberglass, and it wasn’t until after his death that the matte finish he desired was achieved, thanks to advances in recyclable polypropylene. “The chair that Charles and Ray were designing,” explains grandson Eames Demetrios, “is the chair that’s made tomorrow.”
Marcel Breuer was an apprentice at the Bauhaus when he began experimenting with tubular steel as a way of building a more transparent chair. Inspired by the frame of a bicycle, the Wassily chair is believed to be the first bent tubular steel chair design. It distills the traditional club chair to a series of strong, spare lines, executed with dynamic materials for its time.
Similar in design to the Eames Molded Plastic chairs and Panton S chair, The Tulip chair was designed by Finnish architect and designer Eero Saarinen as a compliment to his Tulip table (Seen above). Saarinen hoped to produce the chair as a one piece unit made entirely of fiberglass, but the material wasn’t able to support the base, and was prone to breakage (It took another decade for Verner Panton to create the Panton S chair). As a result, the base of the Tulip chair is made of cast aluminum with a rilsan-coated finish to match the upper shell, giving the appearance of a single organic unit. The design was hailed as “futuristic” and was so popular that modified Tulip chairs appear on the bridge and other areas of the U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek).
Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, designed the Model 3107 chair following the Gesamtkunstwerk ideology that the design of exterior and interior spaces should be seamlessly conceived. The 3107 along with its Series 7 siblings are Eames inspired molded plywood chairs. The design is so popular that it is one of the most copied chairs in the world.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair was originally created to furnish the German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona. It has since come to epitomize modern design. Mies van der Rohe designed the chair to serve as seating for the king and queen of Spain. Sadly, it is now mostly found in office reception areas and building lobbies.
The Ghost chair, by Philippe Stark, is the reinvention of the classic Louis XV armchair using a single piece of translucent injection-molded polycarbonate. Stark took a classic form and reinvented it as a modern icon. Creating one of the most recognizable chairs of the 21st century.
An instantly recognizable classic, Arne Jacobsen (again!) designed the Egg chair for the lobby and reception areas of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. This organically shaped chair has since become synonymous with Danish furniture design throughout the world. This iconic chair embraces the organic, timeless shape of one of nature’s most proportional creations. It has harmonized an aesthetic form without compromising comfort and functionality. Jacobsen’s influential design has been celebrated as the pioneer of modernism for more than 50 years.
Eames Lounge Chair
Who doesn’t recognize the Eames Lounge chair? Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, it lives in museums like MOMA in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago and in stylish interiors around the world. It’s been the subject of documentaries and books. The quintessential modern classic. That makes the Eames Lounge chair our number 1 chair.
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