History of Everyday Objects : Chair

Welcome to History of Everyday Objects for D’s Art Takes. Here, we unveil the origins of life through the ages on planet Earth, by looking at the everyday objects. Today, we explore the origins of the Chair.

Taking a Seat

One of the first forms of seating used in ancient Egypt was the stool. Looking eastward to China, royalty of the Second Dynasty also used stools. In China however, even this simplistic form of seating was associated with being a high ranking member of society. Raised seating was not just for anyone. It was reserved for Kings. Over time, the stool evolved into a more comfortable form of seating. And so the primitive chair was born.

The Chinese simply innovated and added a backrest to the stool. Historians have noted that such an evolution was also found in Mesopotamia, and later in Egypt.

Modern Seating : The Chair

By the 12th century, the structure of the chair had seen some improvement. It now had 3 legs and perhaps resembled a crudely made bar stool. In the Medieval era, seating even saw some stylistic evolution. Chairs became more decorative. Ornately carved, comfortable and shapely. This is when the 4-legged chair became popular.

Even the next few 100 years were crucial to the development of modern seating. Chairs and furniture in general were an important aspect of European royalty’s display of wealth. Comfortable cushioning, use of velvet, frills, carvings, precious stones became commonplace. Decorative styles ranged from Gothic, to Rococo to Victorian.

By the 20th century, the chair became extremely commonplace. Seating designs became more congruent with the current artistic trends. Modern and contemporary art led to simple and minimalist designs. Manufacturers even started to use cheaper wood to reduce costs. Plastic and other alternatives were found. And so the chair became another forgotten, yet highly utilitarian object in every household.

Wheels on the Chair : The first known office chair was invented by Charles Darwin. He simply added wheels to his own chair. By this, he made sure everything he needed was within arm’s reach.

Read more articles on the History of Everyday Objects in the archive.