The Most Iconic Chair Designs Part 1

We’re sure you’ve seen these chair types at some point in time. (We included photos to illustrate the designs). It is essential to emphasize that original designs are always accompanied by signatures and seals of authenticity.

Let’s take a super quick tour of their names and designers.

1. Wishbone (+ a Tulip Table)

Also known as the CH24 or Y Chair, it was designed by Hans Wegner in 1949 for Carl Hansen & Søn as part of the “Chinese chairs” series inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting on Ming dynasty chairs.

It has bentwood armrests, woven rope seat and the name refers to its Y-shaped backrest.

The Wishbone is a classic example of mid-century modern design and a hallmark of Danish modernism. It is comfortable, sturdy, functional and very elegant. In short, it is a timeless classic that brings style and sophistication to any space.

«The good chair is a task one is never completely done with.»

Hans Wegner

The Tulip is a table designed by Eero Saarinen in 1956. It is characterized by its sleek, minimalist design and pedestal base. The table is made of molded fiberglass with a round oval top and was designed to achieve a more uncluttered environment. As Saarinen said, “To have a single uninterrupted surface, free of clutter and distractions.”

The tulip table was an innovative design that ushered in a new era in modern furniture design. It is still a popular choice today because of its clean lines.

2. Cesca

The Cesca or B32 holds a special place in design history. Marcel Breuer created it in 1928 and Knoll was responsible for manufacturing it. This chair exhibits a harmonious combination of materials and forms. It features a woven mesh backrest and seat, supported by a tubular steel frame that can be supplemented with armrests.

It is distinguished by its characteristic curved chrome-plated legs and handcrafted interwoven Viennese straw. Since its inception, it has maintained its status as a cherished and coveted piece.

«I am as much interested in the smallest detail as in the whole structure.»

Marcel Breuer

3. Panton

Designed by Danish architect and designer Verner Panton in 1959, it stands as an icon of modern design. Its debut occurred at the IMM Furniture Fair in Cologne in 1968, captivating audiences with its revolutionary one-piece plastic construction. This pioneering chair, inspired by the space age, embodies a futuristic aesthetic that resonated with the spirit of the time.

The Panton Chair revolutionized the concept of furniture design. It is practical, comfortable, durable, and easy to transport and store. Its sleek and innovative form made it an emblem of the modern world. The first versions were white, black, and red. In 1968, Panton released the transparent version, which was made from Makrolon plastic, developed by the German company Bayer. It was an instant hit.

«The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.»

Verner Panton

4. BKF

The BKF or “Butterfly Chair” was designed in 1938 by the Austral Group, composed of architects Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy. This team, originally formed in Paris at Le Corbusier’s studio, later settled in Buenos Aires, where they created many of his renowned works.

The BKF chair is characterized by its simple and elegant design. It is made with a lightweight metal frame and a canvas or leather seat. It is versatile and can be used both indoors and outdoors, and folded for easy storage. It is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of its designers, and it is a reminder of the rich legacy of Argentine design.

We think it deserves a separate post, we will surely put something together for the next few months.

5. Eames Molded Plywood

The Eames molded plywood chair is a classic piece of mid-century modern furniture. It was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940s, and it is still one of the most popular chairs in the world.

It is made from a single piece of molded plywood, which gives it a smooth, organic look. It is also very comfortable, thanks to its curved seat and back.

Charles and Ray Eames were pioneers in the use of molded plywood in furniture design. Their work with molded plywood was inspired by their experiences during World War II, when they were commissioned by the U.S. Navy to develop glulam splints, stretchers, and glider frames. After the war, the Eames continued to experiment with molded plywood, and they developed a new process for molding plywood that allowed them to create complex curves and shapes. This process made it possible for them to design chairs that were both comfortable and stylish. The Eameses’ use of molded plywood had a profound impact on the design world, and their chairs are now considered classics.

«Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.»

Charles & Ray Eames

6. DSW

Also from the Eames, we are sure you are very familiar with this model.

The DSW chair, also known as the Eames Plastic Side Chair, dates from 1950. It was one of the first commercially successful mass-produced plastic chairs and remains one of the most popular chairs in the world. It is made from a single piece of molded plastic, with a wooden base.

It was originally designed for the International Low-Cost Furniture Design Competition, held by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1948. The competition was open to designers from around the world and the goal was to create an affordable and comfortable chair. The DSW Chair won the competition and was an immediate success, quickly becoming one of the most popular chairs in the world.

«The details are not the details. They make the design.»

Charles Eames

7. Wassily

One more time Marcel Breuer. The Wassily chair is made of bent tubular steel, a new material at the time. The design was inspired by the handlebars of a bicycle, which Breuer had seen while working as an apprentice to architect Peter Behrens.

It was named after Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter who was a friend of Breuer’s. Kandinsky was a fan of the chair’s design and often used it in his paintings. The Wassily chair was first exhibited at the Bauhaus, a German art school where Breuer taught.

8. Plia

The Plia chair is a lightweight and portable chair made of polypropylene, easy to fold and unfold, making it a convenient and versatile piece of furniture. It was designed by Giancarlo Piretti in 1968 and first produced by Kartell, an Italian furniture company. The Plia chair is still made today and is available at a variety of retailers.

It is on display in the MoMA’s Design and Architecture Galleries.

We did not find reflections of this great designer. If you know of any, please share them with us.

There are loads of other cool designer chairs that didn’t make the cut but don’t worry, we’ll be showcasing them in our upcoming posts. We’ve also been thinking it would be awesome to put together a post featuring the ultimate collection or maybe even one that’s organized by designer. How does that sound? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!