In a college art history/architecture class, our creative director, Leah Jacobs, learned about a number of famous architects and artists who had designed chairs. She thought it was pretty odd, but as the professor explained, it made sense as they spend a lot of time combining thoughtful design and beautiful functionality. What could be more functional than a chair? And to think of all the possibilities of modernizing and updating an age old tool would excite any creative mind. We looked into it and found that a lot of the “traditional” wedding or event chairs have similar histories. Check out what we found out about each chair and at what type of event we would use them. Title photo courtesy of Green Wedding Shoes.
The Barcelona Chair was designed by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, famous for being one of the pioneers of modern architecture and emphasizing pure structure over ornament. Mies and Lilly Reich designed the chair for the International Exposition of 1929, located in Barcelona. Mies was famous for his quote, “less is more” and carried this mentality into his designs. The chair has sleek swooping chrome legs, created as one single piece, and a leather cushion looped onto the back and seat bars. It’s the ultimate balance of form and function.
Photo courtesy of Barcelona Designs.
The Wassily Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer back in 1926. It’s note-worthy because it’s the first chair to use a bent-steel frame, inspired by the handlebars of a bicycle. The chair is named after famous abstract-impressionist painter, Wassily Kandinsky. He and Breuer met at the famous Bauhaus institution, became friends, and Kandinsky fell in love with the design, so Breuer created another for his friend. The chair was way ahead of its time and honestly still looks futuristic, almost 100 years later. The chrome frame is adorned with strips of leather in just the right places for comfort. It somehow combines minimalism and complexity to form a beautiful piece of functional art that stands the test of time.
Photo courtesy of Unprogetto.
King Louis XVI Chair
Despite being called the King Louis XVI, this chair is fit for a Queen, specifically Marie Antoinette. Craftsmen Georges Jacob and Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené are largely credited with creating these chairs and many other sets of ornate furniture for the Queen in the 1770s. They’re classy, comfortable, elegant and feature tapered carved legs, oval back, and armrests. The chair is upholstered, usually in a luxurious fabric like linen or velvet. These chairs are almost an essential for any formal event, especially if the venue is a beautiful chateau or estate.
Photo courtesy of Full Bloom Cottage.
Cane Back Chair
Caned furniture originated in Europe around the 1660s, after trading with Asia became easier. Caning is the process of weaving and stretching strands of natural material over the frame of the piece of furniture. People enjoyed the cane furniture because it was lighter than solid wood, more durable and easy to repair, and clean and airy. Today, these chairs usually have a plush upholstered seat for more comfort. Event hosts or designers choose these chairs to create an antique-like yet natural vibe. They might be more formal than a simple folding chair yet less formal than a Chiavari or King Louis XVI, but still work in boho events with lots of greenery and neutral colors.
Photo courtesy of Style Me Pretty
Chiavari chairs are the most popular and traditional style for weddings. Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi was asked by the president of the Economic Society of Chiavari in 1807 to design a new versatile chair. The chair that emerged was made to look like bamboo with simple straight legs and back. They were light and stackable for ease of use and worked with many different covers and cushions to customize them for different settings. In 1953, the Kennedy’s even used Chiavari chairs at their extravagant wedding. They cross style, geographic and even time boundaries as a classic design. Today, they are considered a traditional wedding chair and come in metallics, multiple colors, patterns and even clear acrylic.
Photo courtesy of The Knot.
Rattan/Wicker Chair (Peacock Chair)
First of all, what’s the difference - Rattan is the material used and Wicker is the style of weaving. Rattan/Wicker chairs have roots in ancient Egypt, as examples were discovered to be buried with pharaohs. The Roman Empire was inspired and incorporated the style as well, and eventually wicker was found all across Europe by the 17th century. Today, this style can be woven (pun intended) into any event’s decor, whether it be a tropical beach getaway or a bohemian desert oasis theme. We included Peacock chairs in this section as they can be used in similar ways. Peacock chairs have large wide backs and resemble the thrones in Asia they originated from. We love a pair of Peacock chairs at a sweetheart table for a wedding or a single chair for the mommy-to-be at a baby shower.
Photo courtesy of Southern Vintage.
This chair comes with many names because it’s design resembles many different things. The back of the chair is oval-shaped with two enclosed loops that, depending on how you look at it, can look like an infinity symbol or a fish swimming upwards. Originally, they were made similarly to the Chiavari chairs and often have the same faux bamboo legs. They now come in simpler styles and any color and material you can imagine from pure white wood to clear plastic to metallic gold. It’s fitting that the chair has many names as they fit within many different styles. We envision these chairs in an outdoor tented event, as they combine simplicity and elegance.
Photo courtesy of Costa Rica Wedding Rental.
We’d like to thank the Academy for these chairs. They first were designed for the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball in 2005, but have really taken off in recent years as a go-to for events. It’s called the Chameleon chair because often it’s covered by linens, covers, bows, or cushions and can blend in with any decor. Lately however, they have been more frequently used without a cover, exposing the beautiful design of the chair back. The back has a design that looks like movie premiere spotlights soaring into the sky, fitting for the ultimate movie awards, the Oscars. These chairs fit perfectly for a glamorous event or an elegant night out on the town.
Photo courtesy of The Party Store MT.
You might be able to guess why these are called Ghost chairs. They’re usually made of acrylic or lucite and are translucent. They share a similar silhouette as a King Louis XVI chair but are modernized with modern material. They have a much shorter history than most chairs as they were designed by Phillippe Starck in 2002. Currently, they’re one of the most popular wedding or event chairs as they - as you might imagine - fit with any colors and styles. Ghost chairs are extremely versatile and bring a contemporary modern vibe to any room, be it in an event design or even in one’s home.
Photo courtesy of Love Inc. Mag.
The Eames Chair
For lovers of mid-century modern, these are the chairs for you. Eames chairs were designed and created in 1950 - doesn’t get any more mid-century than that - by Ray and Charles Eames for the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design, sponsored by the MoMA. There’s lots of different varieties of legs, whether you like simple wooden legs or intricate geometric metal legs, but the single molded fiberglass seat and back remain iconic. We would place these chairs in both ceremonies and receptions in modern loft spaces with lots of industrial features.
Photo courtesy of Birch & Brass.
The Panton Chair was created by Danish designer, Verner Panton, in 1960 and was the very first to be produced in one single piece of plastic. It’s extremely ergonomic and looks as if it was molded from the human body. Its’ beautiful simplicity is what makes it stand out as a timeless modern piece. It’s light, stackable, durable and easy to clean, making it a stand-out for event designers and decor rental companies. We would use these beautiful chairs in very modern or non-traditional venues like a modern art museum, rooftop or a nightclub.
Photo courtesy of Rocio Esquilas Rivas.
Series 7 Chair
Arne Jacobsen is one of the most successful and innovative furniture designers ever. He created the Series 7 Chair along with the Egg Chair and Swan Chair. You might not recognize the names of each of these, but I’m sure you’ve seen one or more. The Series 7 Chair was designed in 1955 by forming a single piece of plywood, cut in a modified hourglass shape, into the seat and back with simple metallic chrome legs. Jacobsen was a big believer and promoter of modern, clean lines and designs that improve quality of life. The modern Series 7 chair could be used in contrast to a barn setting, connected by leaving it in a wooden material or in tandem with a modern venue in a plastic solid color.
Photo courtesy of Sampleboard.
Folding Lawn Chair
These chairs come from a long line of folding chairs, with origins somewhat unknown. The use of these chairs is in the name - perfect for a backyard or garden venue. They fit in with nature, crafted from wood, and can be accented with matching florals to the event’s design and colors. Great for brides on a budget, they tend to be less expensive and can be jazzed up easily with florals, ribbons, cushions or aisle markers.
Photo courtesy of Party Rentals US.