A chair is a type of seat with a back, intended for one person.
It consists of a seat, legs (usually four) that support the seat, a back, and sometimes armrests.
Chairs vary in design. An armchair has armrests fixed to the seat – a recliner is upholstered and under its seat is a mechanism that allows one to lower the chair’s back and raise into place a fold-out footrest – a rocking chair has legs fixed to two long curved slats.
The word “chair” comes from the early 13th-century English word chaere, from Old French chaiere (“chair, seat, throne”), from Latin cathedra (“seat”).
Chairs are known from Ancient Egypt and have been widespread in the Western world from the Greeks and Romans onwards.
Egyptian chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendour. Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood and metal, they were covered with costly materials and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. It was common for early Egyptian chairs to have legs shaped like those of animals. The seats were corded or dished (hollowed) in wood and topped with a pad or cushion.
The earliest known form of Greek chair dates back to 6 or 7 centuries BC. On the frieze of the Parthenon, Zeus occupies a square seat with a bar-back and thick turned legs – it is ornamented with winged sphinxes and the feet of beasts.
The ancient Greek klismos was once considered one of the most elegant chair designs. The seat, of plaited cord, was supported on sharply curved sabre-shaped legs, tapering to the feet.
The characteristic Roman chairs were of marble, also adorned with sphinxes. The curule chair was originally very similar in form to the modern folding chair, but eventually received a good deal of ornament.
The most famous of the very few chairs which have come down from a remote antiquity is the reputed Chair of Saint Peter in St Peter’s Basilica at Rome. The wooden portions are much decayed, but it would appear to be Byzantine work of the 6th century, and to be really an ancient sedia gestatoria.
The earliest images of chairs in China are from 6th-century Buddhist murals and stele, but the practice of sitting in chairs at that time was rare. It wasn’t until the twelfth century that chairs became widespread in China.
In Europe, it was owing in great measure to the Renaissance that the chair ceased to be a privilege of state and became a standard item of furniture for anyone who could afford to buy it. Once the idea of privilege faded the chair speedily came into general use. Almost at once the chair began to change every few years to reflect the fashions of the day.
Though American inventor Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with inventing the rocking chair, historians actually trace the rocking chair’s origins to North America during the early 18th century, when Franklin was a child. Originally used in gardens, they were simply ordinary chairs with rockers attached. It was in 1725 that early rocking chairs first appeared in England.
In the 1880s, chairs became more common in American households and usually there was a chair provided for every family member to sit down to dinner. By the 1930s, factory-manufactured “fancy chairs” like those by Sears. Roebuck, and Co. allowed families to purchase machined sets. With the Industrial Revolution, chairs became much more available.
The 20th century saw an increasing use of technology in chair construction with such things as all-metal folding chairs, metal-legged chairs, the Slumber Chair, moulded plastic chairs and ergonomic chairs. The recliner became a popular form, at least in part due to radio and television.
The modern movement of the 1960s produced new forms of chairs: the butterfly chair, bean bags, and the egg-shaped pod chair that turns. It also introduced the first mass-produced plastic chairs such as the Bofinger chair in 1966. Technological advances led to molded plywood and wood laminate chairs, as well as chairs made of leather or polymers. Mechanical technology incorporated into the chair enabled adjustable chairs, especially for office use. Motors embedded in the chair resulted in massage chairs.
The Dragons chair was made by the Irish designer called Eileen Gray in 1971 for the auction at Christie and was sold at the high price of $27.8 million. This chair is made from the pure brown leather and further
enhanced with the wooden frame to complete its look. It was considered as the perfect symbol of strength for the people to protect them. It is the most expensive chair in the whole world.
The lightest chair weighs 0.617 kg (1.36 lbs) and was designed by Massimiliano Della Monaca (Italy). It was presented and weighed in Marina di Carrara, Italy, on 30 October 2008. The chair was part of the CompoDesign exhibition.
The largest chair measured 30 meters (98 ft 5 in) tall. It was made by XXXLutz together with Holzleimbauwerk Wiehag GmbH (all Austria) and was completed and presented in St. Florian, Austria, on 9 February 2009.
In 2004, artist Simon Faithfull (UK) sent a domestic chair 30 kilometres up to the edge of space as part of Artists’ Airshow exhibition. Attached to a weather balloon, the chair – and his film of its subsequent rise to the stratosphere – formed an artwork called Escape Vehicle No 6, part of a series of similarly titled pieces expressing the artist’s frustration with the force of nature that keeps him tethered to the Earth.
The fastest 100 metres chair race is 31.92 seconds and was achieved by André Ortolf (Germany) in Augsburg, Germany, on 15 August 2014.