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Modern Wooden Chair

History of the Modern Wooden Chair

A Brief History of the Modern Wooden Chair: Ever Wondered how Wooden Chairs Came to be?


Lets start from the very beginning…

The notion of sitting has been around since mankind evolved to stand on two legs. Early humans sat on the ground, tree stumps, logs and rocks. However, the earliest record of the modernized western concept of chairs actually dates back to Egyptian tomb paintings around 3100 B.C. In these paintings, Pharaohs and high priests were always perched on a throne. It looked like a chair with four legs and a high, decorated back. At this time, seating was reserved for the most important members of the community. Seating was a symbol of divinity among Egyptian people.


Around 494 B.C., the Romans used chairs to represent status. They invented a chair called the Curule Chair. It was similar to a day bed. It was only reserved for the wealthiest people. Later on, Romans created the Kilimos Chair. This was still exclusive, but suitable for philosophers, scholars, artisans, etc. Historians regard The Klismos chair, throughout (chair) history as one of the most beautiful chairs ever created.


Curule Chair

Kilismos Chair

Around 70 A.D. in Greece, chairs became a little more mainstream. Grecians created seating for the masses. Born were basic block indentations in amphitheaters (later used in the Roman Coliseum).

The history of the modern Western wooden chair, however, began with a man named Guiseppe Gaetno Descalzi. He was an Italian cabinet maker in Chivari, Italy. In 1807, Marquis Stefano Rivarola commissioned Gaetano Descalzi. His mission was to create a remodeled version of the Persian Empire Chair, the Chivari Chair. His divine woodworking and structured chair became the standard of comfort and elegance for wooden chairs.


Chivari Chair


Further, the idea of chairs for anyone and everyone was popularized during the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). The rise of mass production made chairs affordable. Working class families were now able to afford chairs. In fact, in America at this time, Thomas Jefferson was also revolutionizing chairs in his own way. Jefferson was the first to create the swivel chair around 1776. It is said Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in his swivel chair! After that, In 1840, Charles Darwin accidentally invented the modern office chair. Apparently, he added wheels to the feet of a Captains’ chair for convenience and mobility and the swivel was born. (This was partially the inspiration for our very own Burlingame Library Chair). As the Industrial Revolution blossomed, so did innovation and design in furniture. 


Swivel Chair


So, there you have it. That’s a brief history of the modern wooden chair.  Styles are constantly changing. However, the timelessness of wooden chairs remains constant throughout the centuries. 


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