Such a usual piece of furniture for us as a chair was once not accessible to everyone. In Russia, until the time of Peter’s reforms, everyone, including those close to the royal person, sat on a bench. The chair served as a throne, even the king sat on it only in “special” cases. Moreover, they carried a chair with them: after all, the presence or absence of a chair clearly demonstrated who is who.
The inventors of the chair – the seat with the back – consider the ancient Egyptians. Before them, one could only sit on a bench or on a stool. It is difficult to imagine a royal lady sitting on a simple stool. But what if the chair has not yet been invented? For the thrones of their rulers, ancient Egyptian joiners invented armrests. At first it even seemed strange – backs, elbow holders. But the throne turned out to be so convenient that since then no sovereign ruler has refused it.
And among the ancient Greeks, chairs were mainly the privilege of women and children. If you carefully look at the drawings on ancient Greek vases, you can see that they often depict women sitting on elegant chairs. Men preferred to recline during leisurely conversations and feasts.
For the ancient Romans, a chair or chair was an indicator of how well a person was. An important official did not part with his folding ivory chair. He was worn after him by his obedient slave. On a low, richly decorated seat – bisillium sat only especially respected citizens. And the head of the aristocratic family descended on the home throne of marble, arranged like an imperial one.
For a long time, the chair remained a prestigious thing. Chairs with pillows could especially be proud of themselves, because only members of the royal family had the right to sit on them. These chairs played a very important role in the palace ritual, and the very appearance of them — the proudly reclined back and lush seat — spoke about this. The nobility was located on beautiful chairs decorated with carvings and inlays, while the less generous courtiers sat on folding seats. Everyone else at the royal reception had to stand. The king granted only the right of a stool to some court ladies, that is, the right to sit on it.
Louis XIV especially appreciated the chairs and, in order to prove this, ordered them to be made of pure silver for his palace. True, these precious chairs had very little to live: waging devastating wars, the king melted the chairs into coins.
For a long time, the main thing that the masters sought in the manufacture of the chair was their magnificent appearance. Let it be not very convenient, but always dignified. For example, a baroque-style Spanish chair was very uncomfortable. He condemned a man to sit in a torturous pose during hours of ceremonies, because he looked majestic, like the ruler of a great power. Gradually, this attitude towards the chair changed, and finally the look at it became exactly the opposite. “The main thing is convenience!” – this is the unanimous opinion of all, but it has matured only by the 17th century. At this time, a deck chair (a long chair) appeared on which to sit and lie. Sun loungers were different in shape – in the form of a boat or in the form of a “broken duchess”. Do not be alarmed! Besides such a tragic name, there was nothing wrong with this deck chair! The Broken Duchess consisted of a chair and a soft stool attached to it, and sometimes of two chairs and a stool between them.
But proud chairs more than once forced to reckon with themselves. For example, when men began to wear tailcoats, they had to sit back to front – facing the back of the chair so as not to wrinkle the tails.
For the history of the chair, the middle of the 19th century became a turning point. Until that time, the chair remained primarily a luxury, and then a seat. Everything was changed by the Viennese carpenter Mikhail Tonet. He came up with the idea of making chairs entirely out of bent wood. Bent chair, cheap and practical, conquered the world. For the first time, a chair came to the homes of ordinary people. Until the end of the 19th century, Thonet produced 50 million chairs. All Europe, America, and even Russia settled on them! 150 hectares of drillwood have become material for Viennese chairs. And now, when more than a hundred and forty years have passed, the Vienna chairs and rocking chairs gracefully fit into the interior. Books that win the hearts of readers for a long time are called “bestsellers”, and for long-living furniture there is a name – “long seller”. Vienna chairs and rocking chairs are the most wonderful longsellers!
An example of Thonet was contagious. Furniture for seating began to be made of bent plywood, bent pipes, bent sheets of metal.
The creators of modern chairs put forward new ideas in their projects. Outstanding architect Van der Roye made a chair out of a square section of the pipe. And one of the founders of modern design – Marcel Breuer – decided to rid our home of you from “heavy comfort”, as he said. He designed a hanging chair seat. Another prominent architect, Ero Saarinen, formed a seat by pressing in the shape of a bowl to free the chair from the “leg mess” and mounted it on a high tube-shaped stand.