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A Brief History of Chairs

Here at our Design Studio it’s no secret that we’re obsessed with chairs. Over the years we have developed many bespoke chairs which are showcased throughout our hotels and available at Shop Kit Kemp. Our designs include: Min’s Tub Chair, Handle Chair and Kit’s Wing chairs.

You might want to sit down for this! We found it remarkable to discover that in the course of history, we haven’t been sitting in chairs for all that long. Although the earliest chair dates back to the times of Ancient Greece and Egypt, the everyday furniture piece as we know it didn’t emerge until the 16th century. Join us as we take a brief look at the history of chairs…

The chair originally served as a symbol of leadership or respect for millennia, reserved only for those in position and power. The only person sitting higher than the commoners was the chief. The higher an individual was ranked, the taller and more extravagant the chair was.

For many years, people possessed little furniture and sat on whatever was available as well as the ground. During the Middle Ages, people sat on chests, benches and stools. These were the normal seats of everyday life and to use a chair was simply not commonplace.

It was the Renaissance period that saw chairs cease to be a privilege and become standard items of furniture for anyone who could afford them. Once the idea of privilege faded, the chair hastily came into general use.

By 1880, chairs became more common in households and a chair was provided for every family member to sit down to eat dinner together. Here is where designs began to change to reflect current fashions and technologies.

‘The Chair’ is still used today as a symbol of authority in the House of Commons and in many organisations. In keeping with its historical connotations of authority, committees, boards of directors and academic departments commonly have a ‘chairman’ or ‘chair’.

It is hard to imagine our world without chairs. They aid us in tasks throughout our everyday life and provide us with respite and comfort at the end of a long day. Discover our top tips to make your chair the star of the room with our blog post How To Give A Chair A Punch Of Personality.

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