The essentials: 20 of the best chairs

From traditional wooden chairs to futuristic carbon fiber models: 20 iconic projects selected by Domusweb.

The design of a chair has always been considered the most demanding and interesting of challenges for a designer. The chair is the object which best represents Western civilisation (as on reflection, not all the peoples of the world use chairs in order to sit!) The chair is in reality a system, and is usually referred to in the plural, “chairs”, immediately expressing the importance of optimising design and manufacturing quality for an item which is not purchased singularly, but in groups, usually of 4-6-8-12 (and which, furthermore, are usually bought in order to be placed around a table). 

As well as this factor, the complexity of chair design lies in the function that it has to carry out, destined to support the body of an individual who may weigh up to 120 kg and who, in any case, “is never still”, stretching, leaning back, getting up, rocking. Consequently, the structure of a chair is subjected to incredible forces which a “non-designer” would find hard to imagine. 

Furthermore, the chair is a complex category which contains numerous sub-categories: stackable chairs, folding chairs, cushioned chairs, armchairs, as well as office chairs. 

The chair is therefore an object that “summarises”, a perfect story-teller. Between the tradition wooden chair which can still be found in little trattorie off the beaten track and avant-garde models in carbon fibre, lies the entire history of humankind. This is why, if we have to choose a single object with which to tell that story, that object would, without a doubt, be the chair!

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