The elegance and razzle-dazzle of the mid-century chairs are unparalleled. And that’s why they have stuck around even after the turn of the century.
These chairs have a timeless essence in them and continue to awe people with their luxury and comfort. We have compiled a list of all the major mid-century chairs which were ahead of their time.
If you are a foreigner to this topic, you’ll definitely get to know a lot of new stuff in our article. A few of these chairs aren’t practical in today’s world, but considering all the time and effort invested by the designers, they’re worth looking at.
Let’s get into it then!
Most Loved Mid-Century Modern Chairs
The Wassily chair is considered to be one of the earliest models to defy the chair design norms of the mid-century. In those days, all chairs were extravagantly ornamented, and as a result, this modern chair didn’t impress many people.
Only a few users appreciated Marcel Beurer’s innovative creation because not everyone could see the beauty in a metallic bicycle frame-inspired design. Breuer came up with this idea when he was a student at Bauhaus’ famous design and art school.
Do you know what the adorable part is? He named his invention after his painter friend Wassily Kandinsky. Now that is BFF goals indeed!
There’s no other place more comfortable than a mother’s womb, and the next chair on our list was designed keeping that in mind. If you want to curl up with a cozy throw blanket, we recommend trying the Womb chair.
The seat has a high back and indented arms that will wrap around you while sitting, making you feel completely safe and secure. Also, if you want to take comfort to the next level, get an ottoman to rest your feet and chill like a boss.
Perfectly balanced on a single leg, the Tulip chair is as elegant as it sounds. Just how the tulip blooms on its stalk, the chair also swivels on an aluminum base and has a sleek fiberglass molding. Eero Saarinen designed this masterpiece and launched it in her Pedestal Collection.
Moreover, Tulip chairs typically come in white with accent-colored seating cushions, and that’s why they blend well in minimalist decors. Not to be too imaginative, but the curved lines on their structure give a sci-fi and space-age vibe; let us know if you agree.
Other than its beautiful sculpt and peculiar shape, there’s something extraordinary about the next chair on our list. Popularly known as “stacking chair,” this one was the first-ever model crafted entirely out of a single plastic piece.
So, it’s a given fact that a considerable amount of craftsmanship went into building this chair, and the result was nothing less than spectacular. It was designed by Verner Panton, who allegedly drew his inspiration from a neat stack of plastic buckets.
It doesn’t matter if the Cesca chair was designed all the way back in 1928 because it’s an icon of modern furniture to date. The chair was the pioneer of steel tube frames in seating, and the traditional models didn’t have any armrests.
However, you can get arm support in the modern versions, along with some upholstery. These features make the newer versions more comfortable while preserving the originality of the traditional model.
We already talked about “BFF goals,” so let’s talk about “couple goals” now. The dynamic duo, Ray and Charles Eames, worked together and came up with this ultra-comfy and super-relaxing lounge chair.
It’s almost absurd how designers get inspired by the weirdest of things. Artistic minds function in different ways, and they can visualize the beauty that normal eyes often miss. But in this case, it’s more about the practical application Charles and Ray picked up from a baseman’s baseball mitt.
The lounge chair has a structure like that of a mitten and provides a similar embracing comfort too. Just like the Womb chair, this one can also be coupled with a footrest.
Aright, riddle this – what’s common between a turkey and our next chair? It’s the wishbone! Invented in 1949 by the Danish designer Hans Wegner, the Wishbone chair comes with wooden armrests and a woven string seat.
The seat has a Y-shaped backrest, which looks like a wishbone, and that’s where it gets its name from. Being a popular piece of mid-century Danish furniture, it is a combination of modernist ideals and East Asian designs.
Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair is engineered with a design inspired by the shape of a shell. Now, how’s that possible? We’ll walk you through it.
The shell shape is most prominent in the back support of the chair, as it is rounded and has adaptable high edges. Furthermore, the legs are either made of two bent steel pieces or four separate stands.
You’ll find two variants of this chair on the market: 1) Armless plastic 2) Fiberglass armchair, and you can pick whichever is more appealing. But we’ll mention that a chair with cozy arm support always wins the race.
You must have seen this chair in your favorite 50s and 60s movies already, as it was the hottest pick in those days. The OG Barcelona chair was created in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the International Barcelona Exhibition. And ever since, it has won the hearts of many and secured a special spot in luxurious seating arrangements.
In the later years, Knoll got hold of the exclusive rights for this fantastic furniture and is the sole producer and distributor worldwide. Furthermore, the chair is available in black, creamy off-white, and caramel colors.
Now, this one is a rather odd model but suits the taste of those on a hunt for edgy, eye-catching stuff. Harry Bertoia referred to famous sculptures before coming up with the metal style open-form Bertoia chair.
Although the diamond wire seat isn’t high on relaxation or convenience, it is comparatively less expensive and low maintenance. The steel mesh irritates the skin after some time, so we recommend placing a cushion before you sit.
Danish furniture hits the right spot when it comes to good looks and coziness, and we have the Egg chair to support our point.
The design looks so contemporary and modern that one would have never guessed it was invented in 1958. Yes, obviously, the present-day version is modified and more polished, but what about the innovation behind the original piece? It was indeed much ahead of its time.
In fact, the egg chair played a pivotal role in the modernism design movement with its accommodating backrest and incredibly supportive seat. It was engineered in a way that sitters could slouch all they wanted to without risking any pain in the spine.
We are almost halfway through our list of most loved mid-century modern chair designs, so we hope you’re having fun reading all this historical stuff.
Next in line is the Platner armchair, designed by the namesake Warren Platner in 1966. This one is comparatively more recent and has many cheap dupes on the market. Let’s talk a little about its basic structure.
The Platner chair has a seating cushion, back support, and armrests which are hauled upwards by dozens of metallic rods. Additionally, the seating is a perfect intermediate between a typical relaxing chair and an armchair.
Although Americans, Danish, and Spaniard designers topped the industry, Swiss also contributed by launching some of the best mid-century designs. Pierre Jeanneret made a block-style chair using cane and wood and named it the “Chandigarh chair.”
Supported by two V-shaped legs, the chair has a flat base composed of woven cane material. However, this one doesn’t seem that inviting on the comfort front. It looks like a mechanical piece of wood with its straight wooden armrests and slightly bent cane back support.
Now, don’t confuse this model with those exercise chairs that have a ball fitted in them; we’re referring to the one that Eero Aarnio invented in 1963. He was a Finnish designer who polished his skills at the Institute of Industrial Art in Helsinki.
The chair is called so because its structure is inspired by a ball, not the whole but half of it. It’s as if a ball was cut in the middle and crafted into a chair, providing enough space for you to sit inside it snuggly.
Lounge chairs have always been people’s favorite choice because they are perfect for one thing that each of us likes to do – lounging. Paulo Mendes da Rocha captured the essence of relaxation beautifully in his Paulistano chair.
This one is laid-back and low-key, with no loud designs or extraordinary structure to attract anybody. And when we say “laid-back,” we mean it literally because the chair has a bucket-style seat that flexes as you lay on it.
There aren’t any kinks or joints in the frame as it is a 17-feet long continuous steel tube with leather fabric as the seat.
Only a few mid-century chairs are completely upholstered, and the Jetty chair can be counted as one of them, except it has steel legs. The arms are slightly bent and are continuous with the backrest, giving it the desired curved shape.
Who would have guessed that this commonly-found office chair dates back to the previous century? The cushioned seat is a bliss to sit on, and you’ll be relaxed even while working.
Make way because we have another Hans Wegner chair rolling in, and it’s the ultimate blend of style and comfort, the Shell chair. Also known by the name of “smiling chair,” it has a seat made of curved wood that protrudes from both sides. The structure gives an impression that the chair is actually smiling, and hence, the name.
Shell chair has modest back support; it’s tri-legged, and for this very reason, it was rejected by the Copenhagen public. People had their doubts regarding the three legs, but eventually, Wegner’s genius got the appreciation it deserved.
Also made of wood and cane, the Kangaroo chair has some striking similarities with the Jeanneret Chair, as both models were brought to life by Pierre Jeanneret. This design has a reclining back; as such, it’s slightly more convenient to sit than his previous creation.
As you can see from the reference picture, quite a lot of thought was put into designing this one. Instead of having back legs, the seat itself touches the ground and serves as leg support.
Some things are just easy to handle, and so is the next chair on our list. We highly doubt if it was easy for the craftsperson to design, but we are certain about the relaxation and comfort it brought to people’s life.
Hans Wegner is known for the practical application and functionality of his furniture designs, and the Easy chair checks off both these parameters. It’s a timeless piece with padded or woven seats, depending on the aesthetic you choose.
A Palermo chair with its bucket-style base is counted among hipster and boho-style seats. It is renowned as a “butterfly chair” because its quadruple corner pockets accommodate steel frames and appear like butterfly wings.
The chair was birthed in Le Corbusier studio by Argentine designers Juan Kurchan, Antonio Bonet, and Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy. It was their take on the French furniture campaign, and they used it in their Bueno Aires building.
Palermo is a classic piece of furniture and impressed the New York’s museum of modern art so much that they picked it for their permanent design collection. In addition to that, the museum requested two more pre-productions, one for Edgar Kaufman’s house (MoMA’s design director), and nobody knows what happened to the other one.
Generally available in vibrant colors, Swan chairs are chic and have durable leather upholstery. They came to the market in the latter half of the nineteenth century (1958), all thanks to Arne Jacobson. He originally designed the chairs while simultaneously working on the Egg chair for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.
This one was all about comfort and luxury as swivel base chairs were a rare find in those days. Guests could spin around it all day and adjust the height too. Apart from that, it had spacious armrests, giving the sitter all the space to lean on.
Motivated by the success of his ball chair, Aarnio decided to upgrade his game further and designed another hemispheric seat known as the bubble chair. Back in 1968, a chair made entirely out of molded acrylic was a baffling creation and took the market by a storm.
The transparent structure of the furniture piece gave it a real bubble-like appearance, and soon it became people’s favorite pick for garden seating. A simple chair can play a major role in setting the vibe in any part of your home.
And this has been an icon of high-quality furniture since the previous century. Its sleek structure and cozy design made it a popular choice among people.
As we move towards the end of our elaborate guide, we can’t help being in awe of Hans Wegner’s work. If you’ve been paying attention, then you must have noticed we have talked about him, time and again, for his innovative mid-century chairs.
The next chair on our list, the Sawback chair, again falls under his belt. He had an affinity and understanding of wood-crafting that is seen only in top-notch artisans or craftspersons.
Moreover, Wegner crafted the Sawback from solid blocks of Oak and Walnut and topped it off using clear lacquer. This topcoat highlighted the contrasting effect of different types of woods, adding depth to the furniture.
The Danish designer treated all his chairs like wood sculptures and worked with utmost precision. He believed, and we quote, “A chair is to have no backside; it should be beautiful from all sides and angles.” And that principle indeed reflected in his work.
With that being said, we’re done with our article on the most loved modern chair designs from the mid-century. Did any of these stand out for you in particular? Let us know in the comments!
It goes without saying that iconic designs can be found on any furniture vertical, iconic wardrobes or drawers, tables or sofas all have their icons waiting to be discovered whilst aging splendidly and effortlessly.
Considering how swiftly the market evolves and the way things go out of trend in the blink of an eye, these chairs have still managed to stick around for decades. So, it’s only fair to call them evergreen and timeless.
Whether it’s the ultra-modern tulip chair or an old-school Jeanneret, each design is unique and has earned its spot in different areas. And we’ll leave you with that thought.
Until next time! Take care.