Iconic and Timeless! Whatever the trend of the day, these chairs still stand out like the day they came into existence. When it comes to interior design, some of the oldest chairs around have had the most staying power. These are the iconic chairs — the ones we swoon over — but have no idea where they originated from.
These iconic chair styles have not only been around for decades and even centuries but have also proven to be functional and stylish through many shifts in trends. So whether you're looking for a dining chair or accent chair, we know you'll adore these styles for much longer than just this season!
These breathtaking pieces exist not only to beautify a space but to also provide function and make the lives of the people who use them easier. They stand the test of time and often have that extra unexpected element that makes a room both cohesive and interesting. Each one has its own story to tell.
If you are anxious that your pricey chair will go out of style, you should check on these iconic mid-century modern chairs that are sure to stand the test of time.
Here is a list of a few chairs that we feel changed the world in one way or the other. Either as stunning masterpieces that impacted other forms of art or as functional pieces so timeless, that you are probably sitting on one as you read this.
Top 10 Timeless & Iconic Chairs
1. Tulip Chair
The Tulip Chair was designed by Eero Saarinen, and it is a really beautiful mid-century modern design. The most amazing fact about this chair is that it only has one spoke at the bottom, unlike the typical four legs that most renowned chairs do possess, and it's still quite stable at that.
Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American architect and designer famously detested hated the sight of many table and chair legs in a room, calling it an "ugly, confusing, unrestful world.” A master of expressive, sculptural forms, he designed the Tulip Side Chair with a pedestal base inspired by a drop of high-viscosity liquid.
He created this fabulous piece to minimize the chaos that's happening under the table. This Tulip chair has an air of simplicity around it, and the seat swivels for easy entrance to or exit from a table.
- The shape of the chair resembles the tulip flower coming up from the floor and blooming out.
- The use of both curved and straight lines gives the chair an almost futuristic feel
- The seat swivels for easy entrance to or exit from a table.
Shop Now: Tulip Chair
2. Wishbone Chair
The Wishbone chair, crafted by Hans J. Wegner in the late 1940s, is one of the most famous symbols of Danish furniture design. Known for his ability to bring together form and function, the ‘Y’ back shape was used to provide comfortable, yet minimal back support.
Part of a series inspired by portraits of Danish merchants in Ming Chairs, the Wishbone Chair is a true testament to craftsmanship. This chair took its inspiration from the Ming chair, which is originally from China. Using the best natural materials, the Wishbone chair is made to last for generations.
The wood frame, paper cord seat, and simple design highlight how you can have luxurious, ergonomically designed furniture without sacrificing visual appeal. Because of the natural materials used, it’s a versatile piece that can feel modern or more traditional. Though the wishbone chair is typically used for indoor dining, don’t be afraid to throw a cushion on it and use it in an outdoor space!
- Its similarity to the shape of the wishbone inspired the chair’s name.
- The backrest offers arm support, and the seat is handwoven from a durable paper cord.
- This chair is frequently used in dining room spaces and can be ordered in either a natural or painted (Black) finish.
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3. Elbow chair
The Elbow Chair is an attractive and simple stackable dining chair. The low back and horizontal seat also mean that it makes an excellent desk chair. Designed by the Danish designer Hans J. Wegner, this chair is a straightforward, simple modern design, compared to the wishbone chair.
Hans J. Wegner designed the stackable Elbow Chair in 1956. After crafting two prototypes, he set the production-intensive chair design aside in his archives, where it remained for nearly half a century until it was brought back to life in 2005.
The elegant Elbow chair is a masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship: the solid wood backrest is bent in shape with steam, and the skillfully crafted rail construction under the leather-upholstered seat is unique. The stackable Elbow chair offers great comfort and perfect support for the back and makes an ideal dining chair in homes and restaurants alike.
- The most distinctive feature of the Elbow Chair is its famous backrest, which is supportive and strong.
- The cushion is available upholstered in supple leather.
- Stacks up to two high.
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4. Barcelona Chair
A seat fit for a king or queen — The Barcelona Chair epitomizes modern design and was originally designed to seat royalty – specifically, the king and queen of Spain. This chair was originally designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as part of the German pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition in 1929, where it got its name.
Drawing inspiration from an Egyptian folding stool, he wanted to design a chair that was both luxurious and comfortable – something fit for the King and Queen of Spain to sit in. Though they never sat in the chairs, the design style quickly became popular with the wealthy who used the chair as a status symbol.
The Barcelona chair is a striking accent piece for your home and works well in a living space or office. The slightly industrial feel of the frame paired with the luxurious leather seat is modern and timeless. Though the chair was redesigned for production in the 1950s, it’s been manufactured the same way since then which indicates how iconic the chair is.
Perfectly proportioned and finished, the simple chair exudes an air of elegance and authority. The Barcelona chair is the perfect choice for a seating option when you need to incorporate, into your space, a modern classic piece.
- This elegant chair continues to exist as an icon of modernism and master craft.
- To create precise tufting, individual panels of leather are cut and upholstered by hand.
- The leather cushion is supported by a stainless steel frame that intersects in an arc, which is both beautiful and functional.
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5. Cesca Chair
An interesting mix of materials — Marcel Breuer’s Cesca Chair is a poetic blend of contrasts. With a tubular steel frame that pairs with upholstery or natural materials, such as wood and cane, this cantilevered chair have been a beloved favorite in homes and restaurants since 1928.
Three years after designing his iconic Wassily Chair, which is believed to be the first bent tubular steel chair design, Marcel Breuer created the Cesca Chair (1928). Named after his daughter Francesca, the simple design combines the Industrial age aesthetic of tubular steel with upholstery or caning and wood. This iconic and timeless chair features a cantilevered design that looks really cool.
Traditionally, there are no arms on this chair, though you can get them with arms. The back is low and at a slight angle for ergonomic support. The Cesca chair also offers a fun bounce and appears to “float” a sitting person in the air.
- The iconic seat features woven cane inserts and a beech frame.
- The cantilevered form exploits the possibilities unique to the material and gives the chair added flexibility and comfort.
- The chair's s-shaped frame provides just enough bounce to make it comfortable without sacrificing support.
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6. Egg Chair
Designed by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, the Egg Chair is reminiscent of an egg. The chair was created in 1958 for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. This sculpted chair cradles the human body, offering a softer, more feminine alternative to Modernism’s geometric lines.
A molded piece of foam sits beneath the upholstery, creating the chair’s fluid curves. Sitters can turn toward a conversation area or away thanks to the swivel base and the chair also tilts back for lounging.
This Egg chair feels like it doesn’t belong in our world. We're still amazed that this chair was designed in 1958. The egg chair’s modern design helps the chair become one of the classics of accent chairs.
You can find an excellent replica egg chair with various colors and fabric options starting at $ 553.99.
- This exceptional chair was designed to cave into itself creating both comfort and privacy for anyone on it.
- Upholstered armchair with gentle curves and foam support.
- It features a swivel base that can be freely rotated at 360 °
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7. Louis XIV, XV, XVI Chairs
The Louis XIV, XV, XVI Chairs are enduring icons of French furniture history. You can find this classic French chair in some of the most distinguished homes around the world.
Louis XV chairs can be identified by their curved wood edges with intricately carved surfaces. The legs of the chair are gently shaped like an S, in the cabriole style. The back of the chair can be slightly tilted to allow the person to recline a little, and the armrests are short, allowing for greater mobility.
The Louis XIV, XV, XVI Chairs bring the influence of European antiques to life with traditional carvings, detailed looping, and gorgeous antique finishes. The hand-applied finish enhances the beauty of the detailed woodwork and carvings. This elaborate collection will surely bring true splendor into your home.
- Thick and sturdy wooden frames.
- Wood is decorated with intricate scrolls or medallions
- Armrests extend to the front edge of the seat.
Shop Now: Louis XIV, XV, XVI Chairs
8. Eames LCW Chair
Simple, comfortable, and effortlessly elegant, the Eames LCW Chair with Wood Base is a study in graceful balance and form. Honored by Time magazine as the Best Design of the 20th Century, this molded plywood chair began as an experiment, created via a machine that molded plywood with the help of heat and a bicycle pump.
Today, the low-slung chair features an expertly crafted molded seat and back that cradles you in comfort. To echo the editors of Time, the Eames molded plywood lounge chair is "something elegant, light, and comfortable.
Low-slung, and with an expertly crafted molded seat and back (no more bike pumps needed), the LCW cradles you in a comfortable position." This timeless wood lounge chair is sure to make a style statement.
- The innovative and ground-breaking designer chair has previously been described as the “best design of the century” by Times Magazine in 1999.
- This chair is cleverly shaped to fit the contours of the human body with the seat seemingly floating in the air.
- The Eames chair combines function and sophistication with remarkable ease.
Shop Now: Eames LCW Chair
9. Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The Eames Lounge Chair, undoubtedly one of the most famous chairs in American design, is a staple of mid-century modern furniture. This elegant lounge chair was designed by a couple, Charles and Ray Eames, in 1956 and remains favorable until now. Similar to the eclectic mid-century style characterized by the use of various materials, Eames Lounge Chair is encased in a combination of Plywood and leather.
It was designed to show how furniture can be modern and comfortable at the same time. Cradling the body’s every curve, the Eames Lounge and Ottoman began as a modern take on a traditional club chair.
At home in both offices and living rooms, the Eames Lounge Chair appeals to those who enjoy all things modern or mid-century modern. The Eames chair is typically paired with an ottoman in a living area and is a great chair to kick off your shoes and relax in. We like to think of it as the perfect lounging chair.
- The style of this iconic chair is said to be inspired by a first baseman’s baseball mitt.
- The simple design of molded plywood and leather upholstery give this chair a luxurious feel.
- This chair is used in interiors to add style and function, its comfort and sculptural beauty make it an exceptional piece.
Shop Now: Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
10. S-Shaped Panton Chair
In the 1960s, designer Verner Panton began to experiment with an innovative, new product: plastic. Captivated by its flexibility, the Danish designer set about creating a seat that was more sculpture than furniture (but also extremely comfortable).
The result is the cantilevered, S-shaped Panton chair, which was the first ever molded plastic chair. As striking as a modern sculpture, it’s crafted from a single piece of strong, flexible polypropylene that’s durable and easy to clean.
Due to its expressive and innovative form, this timeless piece is perfect to be used in contemporary spaces. The comfort of this chair results from the combination of a cantilever structure with an anthropomorphic shape and a slightly flexible material.
Owning one of these pieces means having a masterpiece of the 20th century, an iconic piece that brings movement and beauty into the space as if it were a sculpture.
- Sculptural chair made from a single piece of polypropylene.
- Incredibly durable and easy to clean.
- Stackable design.
Shop Now: S-Shaped Panton Chair
It’s easy to see why these chairs have become so iconic, as each one of them was so innovative and different from what was available at the time. The clean lines and organic shapes of these iconic chairs make them versatile pieces that are easy to mix with other design styles.
So whether you’re thinking about adding one of these chairs to your current design or a new space, these chairs will definitely give your space a timeless, sophisticated, and modern look.
Are you ready to make a statement in your interior space with these iconic and timeless chairs? Kindly let us know your thoughts below!