20 Of The Most Iconic Office Chairs of All Time

Among the many thousands of office chairs designed and manufactured today, there are a but a mere handful considered true icons of the industry. These chairs are not only the possible basis and inspiration for most created today, their timeless designs have kept them in production for up to more than 75 years.

 

We’ve highlighted our top 20 icons since 1925, below. Which ones would you add?


1) WASSILY LOUNGE CHAIR – 1925

 

 

Designer: Marcel Breuer

Manufacturer: Knoll

Marcel Breuer was an apprentice at the Bauhaus when he conceived the first tubular steel chair, the Wassily chair, based on the tubed frame of a bicycle.

 

 

 

2) LE CORBUSIER LC2 ARMCHAIR – 1928

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer : Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand

Manufacturer: Cassina

The “Cassina I Maestri” (Cassina Masters) collection includes some of the most important furniture created by leading figures in the Modern Movement, pieces which have since become landmarks in the evolution of contemporary design.

 

 

 

3) BARCELONA CHAIR – 1929

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Manufacturer: Knoll

The Barcelona chair features the pure compositional structure that now epitomizes Modern architecture.

 

 

 

4) FLAT BAR BRNO CHAIR – 1929

Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Manufacturer: Knoll

Designed for the Tugendhat house in Brno, Czechoslovakia, the Brno chair mirrors the ground breaking simplicity of its original environment. The simple profile, clean lines and meticulous attention to detail have elevated the Brno chair to an icon of twentieth century furniture design.

 

 

 

5) RISOM LOUNGE CHAIR – 1941

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Jens Risom

Manufacturer: Knoll

 

One of the first designers to bring traditional Scandinavian values to the United States with the Risom Lounge chair, Jens Risom was part of a new vanguard that helped establish post-war America’s leadership role in modern furniture design and manufacturing.

 

 

 

6) EAMES MOLDED PLYWOOD CHAIR – 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Charles and Ray Eames

Manufacturer: Herman Miller

Designed to comfortably fit the body, the sculpted form of the molded plywood chairs are produced using thin sheets of lightweight veneer gently molded into curved shapes with natural rubber shock mounts to absorb movement.

 

 

 

7) WOMB CHAIR – 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Eero Saarinen

Manufacturer: Knoll

The Womb Chair displays the Finnish-born designer’s flair for challenging rules, breaking molds and setting new standards for modern design.

 

 

 

8) EIFFEL CHAIR – 1946

Designer: Charles and Ray Eames

Manufacturer: Herman Miller

In the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames were looking forward while other American designers were content to stay put. Designed in 1948, the Eiffel Chair was the first plastic chair to be mass-produced with its clean, simple form that is sculpted to fit the body.

 

 

 

9) DIAMOND CHAIR – 1952

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Harry Bertoia

Manufacturer: Knoll

Innovative, comfortable and strikingly handsome, the chair’s delicate appearance belies its strength and durability. In Bertoia’s own words, “If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.”

 

 

 

10) FLORENCE KNOLL ARM CHAIR – 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Florence Knoll

Manufacturer: Knoll

Like so many of her groundbreaking designs that became the gold standard for the industry, Florence Knoll’s 1954 lounge collection has made its way into the pantheon of modern classics.

 

 

 

11) BUTTERFLY STOOL – 1954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Sori Yanagi

Manufacturer: Vitra

“True beauty is not made ; it is born naturally”, Sori Yanagi, hence the Butterfly Stool.

 

 

 

12) STACKABLE CHAIR SERIES 7 – 1955

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Arne Jacobsen

Manufacturer: The Republic of Fritz Hansen

In speaking of the Stackable Chair Series 7, Arne Jac”I have made my chairs so that they can be stacked and leave the floor open.” -Arne Jacobsen

 

 

 

13) TULIP CHAIR – 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Eero Saarinen

Manufacturer: Knoll

In his purist approach to architecture and interior design, Finnish-born Eero Saarinen sought the essential idea and reduced it to the most effective structural solution within an overall unity of design.

 

 

 

14) LOUNGE CHAIR AND OTTOMAN – 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Charles and Ray Eames

Manufacturer: Herman Miller

Originally designed as a gift for their friend Billy Wilder, the director of “Some Like It Hot” and “Sunset Blvd,” the Eames’ lounge chair and ottoman is recognized everywhere including museums like MOMA in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. They have even been the subject of documentaries and books.

 

 

 

15) EGG CHAIR – 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Arne Jacobsen

Manufacturer: The Republic of Fritz Hansen

Originally designed for the lobby and reception areas of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, this organically egg shaped chair has since become synonymous with Danish furniture design throughout the world.

 

 

 

16) SWAN CHAIR – 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Arne Jacobsen

Manufacturer: The Republic of Fritz Hansen

In 1958, the Swan was a technologically innovative chair: No straight lines – only curves.

 

 

 

17) ALUMINUM CHAIR GROUP – 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Charles and Ray Eames

Manufacturer: Vitra

The Aluminium Chair, one of the greatest furniture designs of the 20th century, stands out for its intelligent combination of materials. The covers are attached inside the aluminium profile sections and simply stretched over the frame, transforming them from mere coverings to a load-bearing part of the structure.

 

 

 

18) PANTON CHAIR – 1960

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Verner Panton

Manufacturer: Vitra

Most people spend their lives living in dreary, beige conformity, mortally afraid of using color. The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.” – Verner Panton

 

 

 

19) BALL CHAIR – 1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Eero Aarnio

Manufacturer: Adelta

A Ball Chair is a “room within a room” with a cozy and calm atmosphere, protecting outside noises and giving a private space for relaxing or having a phone call. Turning around its own axis on the base the view to the outer space is variable for the user and thus he is not completely excluded from world outside.

 

 

 

20) SOFT PAD CHAIR – 1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designer: Charles and Ray Eames

Manufacturer: Vitra

The Soft Pad is identical to the Aluminium Chair, although the attached padded sections form an interesting contrast to the elegant aluminium frame. They make the Soft Pad Chair softer and plusher, without detracting from its transparency and clear lines.


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