Furniture designers rarely become as well-known as actors and actresses or the celebrities behind top selling fashion lines. However, their designs often accumulate popularity through the years, even after the designer has passed away. Some dining chairs have become icons, representing peaks in design history. These chairs are replicated by hundreds of companies each year, with originals selling for thousands of dollars at auction. Adding some of these iconic dining chairs to your home will add a touch of class that every guest will recognize when they enter. If you can`t afford the originals, a high quality reproduction will be just as good.



German designer, Michael Thornet may have been the first person to create a chair for mass production. In 1859 he experimented with steaming wood to shape it and pairing the curvy shapes with a woven cane seat. This style, now widely known as Bentwood, became an instant classic. The chair was immensely popular in Europe. It was first adopted as a cafe chair for use with small tables, but many people added them to their homes by the turn of the century. There are hundreds of modern interpretations that add a splash of color or new materials to this iconic design.


Contemporary Bentwood chair on Dunelm Mill website



The New York City furniture company, Knoll was ahead of the times when they created the curvy, modernistic Tulip dining table. Eero Saarinen was inspired to create a matching set of futuristic chairs to match it. This was the beginning of the Tulip chair, which first became available in 1956. It would become a best seller during the 1960s when anything futuristic and modern was in high demand. The chairs are made from aluminum and fiberglass, with both parts coated in a solid white plastic. A brightly colored cushion is added for comfort and to offset the sleek curves. These chairs were used during the original Star Trek series, securing them a place as a cultural icon.

Knoll Tulip dinning set



The Panton chair is one of the few iconic designs named after its creator.

Verner Panton created the first mass production dining chair to use only one continuous piece of material. This chair is a sinuous piece of polypropylene that requires injection molding to achieve its classic shape. Wide curves express the aesthetics of the time in which it was designed. When the first Panton chair went up for sale in 1967, interior designers either loved it or hated it. The chair still produces the same strong emotions in people today.

Panton chair at Vitra



Windsor chairs are still one of the most widely used dining chairs because of the comfort and classic sensibility behind the design. This is one iconic chair that doesn`t have a designer behind it. The basic Windsor style first emerged in various parts of Ireland during the 16th century. The name comes from the shipping port of Windsor, which was responsible for sending this chair to London. A tall back support made from finely turned spindles is paired with a low seat. A curved arm piece wraps around the entire chair.

Traditional windsor chair warrenchairworks website

Contemporary windsor chair warrenchairworks website


Chippendale chairs are more commonly used as side chairs in modern design schemes, but they were originally designed for dining. Thomas Chippendale lived during the 1700s, so mass production of his classic chair design wasn`t possible. He did spread his design far and wide by publishing it in The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker`s Director. The Chippendale is known for its upholstered seat, lack of arm rests and intricately designed back piece. It remains one of the most popular designs of Dining chairs and is mass-produced by hundreds of different furniture companies.

Jonathan Adler's Chippendale Chair



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