Chiara Del Core 13 oct 2020 Design 0 comments

Design chairs: a combination of functionality and aesthetics

They undoubtedly represent the most popular furniture of all, we find them indoors and outdoors, in residences, workplaces, hospitality and service facilities: we are talking about design chairs. The peculiarity that distinguishes them also constitutes their main function: to guarantee comfortable seating for one person only. The structure of which they are composed is made up of a horizontal seat, four vertical support elements, a backrest and sometimes two armrests. Depending on the type, model and style of the chair, these elements may vary in number, shape and materials. About the latter, the most used are wood, aluminum and plastic fibers, although today, thanks to innovative techniques and increasing versatility, it is possible to find new and unexpected ones.


  • The development of the chair in history
  • The ergonomic design of the chair
  • The chair and its variations
  • The chairs: timeless icons

Over time, the chair becomes a representative element for the style of architects and designers who, through a careful study of human proportions, make it a perfect combination of functionality and aesthetics. Some of the numerous models introduced by the artistic movements that have followed one another throughout history become design icons, sometimes unique pieces capable of giving strong personality to the environments and at the same time guaranteeing the right comfort.   

The development of the chair in history

Originally, the chairs were intended for the wealthiest classes of society and the single ones were used by princes and popes, to symbolize the power held by them. The first certain evidence of the presence of seats dates back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, when ebony seats, often decorated with ivory, with legs that reproduced animal shapes, began to spread. Subsequently, the Roman civilization introduced the so-called “sella curulis”, a seat in the shape of an x, foldable and transportable, a symbol of the judicial power and for this reason used purely by magistrates and belonging to high public offices. In the medieval period, on the other hand, single sessions, intended for kings and members of the clergy, were differentiated from collective ones, intended for the people. While the former were imposing, solid and richly decorated, the latter consisted of a horizontal axis supported by two vertical elements but lacked a backrest. For this reason, they were uncomfortable and not very pleasant from an aesthetic point of view.

Sella curulis, seat dating back to Roman times                    Seat dating back to the Egyptian civilization, 15th century BC - Metropolitan                                                                                                Museum

It was only from the Renaissance period that the chair became a commonly used piece of furniture, widespread even in the most popular homes. There remains a clear distinction between these chairs and those destined for the wealthiest segments of the population, equipped with a backrest made up of Ionic columns. By becoming a piece of furniture for everyday use, the chair assumes great importance and many designers try their hand at experimentations and original solutions.
Industrial design sees the chair as an object of common use with high potential: this is how different types make their way, characterized by various materials and shapes. From this moment on, in some cases,
the seats become real icons, objects that bear the signature of architects and designers and that become progressively recognizable thanks to the strong aesthetic characteristics that characterize them.

To view and download the dwg of some vintage chairs click here

The ergonomic design of the chair

In order to achieve the purpose for which the chairs are designed, it is necessary to study and respect some basic rules for obtaining comfortable seats. One of the principles underlying the design process
of this type of furniture is represented by ergonomics. In order to achieve the purpose for which the chairs are designed, it is necessary to study and respect some basic rules for obtaining comfortable seats. One of the principles underlying the design process of this type of furniture is represented by ergonomics. The latter is the science that investigates the relationship between the human body and the tools at the service of man himself and has as its ultimate goal the user's comfort and psycho-physical well-being. In summary, furniture designed according to the rules of ergonomics must ensure comfort for the one who uses it, without inducing unpleasant inconveniences and unpleasant health effects caused by poor use. In these terms, the chair must be made up of components studied on the size and needs of the body of individuals, even very different from each other. For this reason, the measurements of the seat, back and any armrests must be modeled on proportions belonging to different individuals.

It is therefore essential that the interior design sector is shaped on the characteristics of the target that lives in the specific geographical areas to be served. However, despite these important differences, there are some parameters that allow us to understand whether a chair is ergonomic or not. The common goal is to ensure correct posture when in a sitting position: the sole of the foot must rest completely on the ground, the calf must remain vertical and orthogonal to the foot, while the thigh, in a horizontal position, must form a right angle with the torso which must maintain the erect position. It is important that the back is straight but that you can also change position as needed and that the neck remains relaxed in order to avoid feelings of discomfort.

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