The classic chair: an everlasting design in a variety of styles
22 ottobre 2019
The term “Classic chair” generally identifies a classic design chair with a wood structure upholstered in fabric or leather.
Any traditional original or replica chair linked to a particular style or period is a classic chair. As you can imagine there were chairs designed and produced in different times and in different geographical locations. Through time, chairs have been realized with different production techniques and materials. That’s why when we talk about a classic chair to be more precise we need to establish its specific “style”.
The classic chair is an everlasting design
A classic chair design can be everything from a minimalistic Empire style to a more fancy and carved baroque or Louis XIV style. All these styles carry with them a historical look and the story of an era. This is what makes the design of a classic chair everlasting.
There are so many different styles of classic chairs, all of these are available in many different finishes and if upholstered they can be padded with fabric or leather in an endless selection of colours and patterns. This as a start makes the classic chair a very eclectic piece of furniture. Up to a few decades ago there was an accent on the style, a room and often the whole house/restaurant/hotel was furnished top to bottom in a single classic style.
Recently this trend has diminished, the general demand has gone more in the direction of modern and contemporary but, more and more often, we can see in these modern settings the introduction of accent pieces like a classic chair in contrast with the rest of the modern pieces.
The demand for classic chairs is always on the up and down, different part of the world follow different trends. From what we have seen a classic chair design is everlasting and will always meet the needs of some particular designer.
The classic chair is probably the most important component in a collection of classic italian furniture. You won’t be able to find a collection of classic italian furniture which does not include a classic chair. In any case, in the tradition of the classic Italian furniture the variety of styles and designs does not permit to define univocally the main characteristics of the classic Italian chair. The most famous classic Italian chairs are in baroque style.
Beside the Italian baroque style, the Savonarola style and the Chiavari style are two significant examples of Italian classic chairs.
The first Chiavari Chair - called “Chiavarina” - was created in 1807. All the different replica chairs in the Chiavari style are among the most sought after Italian classic chairs all over the world, especially in USA.
The Savonarola chair was named after Girolamo Savonarola, the famous dominican friar. The Savonarola style emerged in Florence in the 14th century.
Classic styles and replica chairs
There's much to learn on how to identify the style of a classic chair.
French style is one of the most famous styles not only in France and Europe but all over the world, most of our classic chairs are replica of these period furniture. The House of Bourbon ruled the courts of France and its world of fashion for nearly two centuries. The "Fabulous Four," Louis styles: Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, had a huge influence on the arts and design of the chairs.
Distinguishing a style of a classic french chair is a matter of who was ruling France and when. The style of each king distinguished his reign from the others, and the periods in French classic furniture design follow the time periods associated directly with the reign of a particular king.
Talking about classic chairs styles implies talking about replica chairs: unless you are the like owner of an original French chair of the XVI century, the product you are sitting on is (hopefully) a good reproduction of the original style.
Here below we mention just a few of the most popular european classic styles of chairs and the country where they was borned:
Several styles where born in different countries and these was named under the ruling king, queen or emperor or sometime under the name of the designer or carpenter that created it.
The replica chairs by Sevensedie are mainly inspired to the Louis style but there are many other styles beside this, and in particular baroque style chairs. With over forty years of experience in the production of classic Italian furniture Sevensedie is your ideal partner if you are looking for classic chairs.
Louis style chairs: maybe the most famous replica classic chairs
Each King Louis had his own style.
Louis XIV style is marked by grandeur, bold effects, not excessive ornament and flawless workmanship. Louis XIV furniture was elaborate and costly, for this reason very few pieces were produced and most of them were confined to the royal palaces and to the splendid mansions of the aristocracy located in and around Paris.
The Louis XV period is undoubtedly the greatest of all French furniture periods. With its romantic, sensuous, and feminine look, the asymmetrical, more ornate and more playful Rococo style is regarded by many as the Golden Age of French furniture.
The Louis XVI period marked a return to symmetry, straight lines and classical carving decorations. The Louis XVI in our days is the most recognized of the French styles, this style emphasizes straight lines and right angles, seriousness, logical design and more classically inspired motifs.
With the execution of Louis XVI and the French Revolution of 1789, French furniture lost its position of dominance, making the early 19th century the last great period in French furniture making.
How is a Louis style chair produced?
Clearly the most common material used for the construction of a “Classic chair” frame was wood as it has always been available and is was relatively easy to be carved and curved.
There is a wide choice of materials that can be used to upholster a classic chair: silk, linen, cotton and polyester fabrics plain or pattern.
The most luxurious upholstery material beside silk remains the real leather. Real leather is a very versatile product and it comes in a huge variety of colors and textures, from the soft Sauvage to glossy coated finishes or vintage looks the choice is endless. In one of the next chapters we will see in more details the upholstery materials that nowadays are most often used.
The “modern” classic chair: classic in design with innovative materials
Through the years in the attempt of creating new trends and designs, chairs makers and designers have explored new materials: we have seen the use of metal, very often this was Brass as it was relatively easily available, light and easy to shape. At the beginning of 1930 with the invention of plexiglas, followed by fiberglass and similar materials, a new world opened up. From that time these more technical materials was used for the construction of many different models, these new materials allow us to achieve shapes and designs that before we could not even think of. In the recent years, especially with the use of plexiglass we have seen designer recreating traditional models in Baroque or Louis style that before this time were always made only in wood.
Classic as contract chairs for hotels and restaurants
The contract chairs used in hotels and restaurants and all upholstered contract furnitures in general are often subject to very heavy use.
For many years the main prerogative for fabrics used in this sectors was the resistance to abrasion (over so many Martindale cycles 40.000 to 100.000 or more). But even if the fabric was so resistant to abrasion there was still the problem of stains from food, beverages coffee and so on.
The forced choice to avoid these problems, for many years, was to upholster the chairs in eco-leather.
The fabric industry in the recent years has made some huge steps. Water repellent fabrics in the last few years became more and more popular and allowed us to have functional products without having to compromise in style and look. Recently a new technology became available and it allowed us to treat the actual tread and not just the surface of the fabric. We call the fabrics woven with this kind of pre-treated thread “Quick Clean” these are ideal for contract use in restaurants and hotels since they can be cleaned very easily.
Watch the tutorial: How to Perfectly Clean your Upholstered Classic Chair:
The classic chair is generally upholstered (but not always)
A classic chair is generally upholstered, in time with the evolution of techniques and industrial materials, the way that a chair gets upholstered has been drastically modified.
Originally a classic chair would have been made out of a solid structure made occasionally in metal or brass but more often in wood.
The seat and the backrest used to be padded with the materials available at the time: straw, metal springs and linen belts. The material used for the upholstery, generally fabric or leather was secure to the frames by elegant ornamental nails. Nowadays through the introduction of new materials as polyurethane, available in several consistency and also fire retardant, we can achieve the same typical, elegant and everlasting classic design of a chair at lower costs. More performing and long lasting material ensuring a much higher level of comfort and and longer lasting products. A classic chair can also be all in wood or metal without any upholstery. Some classic chairs are made just with a wood backrest and with a wooden seat, often these sort of chairs are more comfortable than they look thanks to the specific ergonomic shape of the wooden elements.
Classic chairs are generally classic dining chairs
By definition a classic “dining” chair is a chair intended to be used at the dining table when we are having lunch or dinner. It need to be comfortable, it has a specific seat height generally between 47 and 52 cm to sit at a table with height between 76 and 82 cm. The chair must be comfortable for the user: seat, height and depth of classic dining chairs generally vary from a country to another in order to be suitable to the average height of the population.
For example clients from most of the far east countries require the seat height to be no more than 46/48 cm, on the opposite northern european countries prefer a higher seat. The seat height for the US is in line with the one we have in Italy but there is often a request for deeper and wider seats.
Most classic dining chairs are available with the matching armchairs, in many countries two armchairs are placed at the far ends of the dining table and are the seating places for the head of the family or for the guests of honors.
Baroque style classic chair
Baroque style classic armchair
The quantity of seats around the table vary from country to country, we can go from as little as two chairs up to any quantity. In some countries the standard dining table can be up to 5 meters in length and take up to 14 dining chairs and 2 or 4 dining chairs with arms.