Modern classic chairs. Will they ever go out of style? We doubt it. Forged by the mid century modern era gods of furniture design, these chairs were the epitome of innovation when they were first conceived and still top the charts today as the greatest for their resilience and timeless design.
(The Mid Century Modern Designers: George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom, featured on Playboy Magazine, July 1961 and republished by DWR)
These classic designer chairs have a funny way of transforming an ordinary room into something spectacular. But at times it can be a bit confusing to decide which of these would look great for a particular space. To help you with this, we have prepared a guide that provides suggestions for the application of these chairs in various contemporary interior settings. Also included are brief summaries of the history of each chair along with images that better illustrate their usage.
Egg Chair – Arne Jacobsen
History: The classic Egg Chair designed by Arne Jacobsen was made in 1958 for the interior design of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Germany.
Egg Chair Usage: It’s steel frame, high curved back and rounded bottom gives it great volume and works well in open modern spaces with high ceilings, like a loft or a library.
Egg Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $5500; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1300
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Swan Chair – Arne Jacobsen
History: The Swan Chair is the Egg Chair’s cousin which was conceived simultaneously for the same Hotel commission in 1958. The Swan Chair was most influential of its time for its seamless curvature and has defined the Retro style which remains popular today.
Swan Chair Usage: This bright Swan Chair with its vintage swagger has wide arms and a low back which sits perfectly as a marvelous side or lounge chair.
Swan Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $3100; Authentic quality replicas cost about $400
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Diamond Chair – Bertoia
History: Also made in the 1950’s was the Diamond Chair, a product of experimental genius by designer Harry Bertoia who welded metal and played with different shapes and forms. He decided to make practical art and the Diamond Chair was born.
Diamond Chair usage: Weightless and sturdy, this customizable sculptural piece remains a classic and compliments any space from a lush garden patio (with or without the cushion) to the smallest reading nook by a window.
Diamond Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $970; Authentic quality replicas cost about $250
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Lounge Chair – Eames
History: Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, the Eames Lounge Chair is the pinnacle of this mid-century wave of modern chairs. It was constructed in 1956 with a plywood frame and leather cushioning but now comes in the color, leather grade and base style of your choice.
Lounge Chair usage: This museum piece is typically coupled with the ottoman and would look fantastic on a shaggy area rug in a super sleek living room surrounded by fun vintage accents.
Lounge Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $3900; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1400
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Eiffel Base Shell Chair – Eames
History: The Eiffel Base Shell Chair looks exactly how described with the base legs reflecting the Eiffel Tower and the seat resembling the curves of a turtle shell! Also designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1948 was a simple side chair that has only become more popular since its inception and used readily today as a side chair.
Eiffel Shell Chair usage: This classic chair can be set in a dining room or used to offer a resting place for the kicking off of shoes in a casual foyer.
Eiffel Shell Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $250; Authentic quality replicas cost about $90
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La Chaise Chair- Eames
History: Also designed in 1948 by Eames, the La Chaise Chair was entered into the Museum of Modern Art’s International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design. It created a buzz for its advancement in fiberglass free form molding designed to hug the human form.
La Chaise chair usage:The dramatic gesture of this chair still raises eyebrows and would certainly look fresh juxtaposing both retro and modern décor in any room of your home.
La Chaise Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $9,500; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1500
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Shell Rocker Chair – Eames
History: This Eames fiberglass rocker has been popularized for its balance of beauty and function with its super comfortable shape and style.
Shell Rocker Chair usage:Made in 1948, it still has a fun timeless look that would perform beautifully anywhere from a modern nursery to a vintage living room.
Shell Rocker Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $500; Authentic quality replicas cost about $230
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Ball Chair – Eero Aarnio
History: Designed in 1963, this retro modern Ball Chair also known as the Globe Chair still looks like something out of the future! Eero Aarnio created the prototype for what would be the most unconventional chair of its time which started a new line of fiberglass seating. Originally, the chair was geared towards industrial design and today these reproductions also function as home furniture all over the globe.
Ball Chair usage: The chair works well in any open living space or lounge space to create a playfully relaxing atmosphere.
Ball Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $6,500; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1,300
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Bubble Chair – Eero Aarnio
History: Five years later, Aarnio created the Bubble Chair which was born from the Ball Chair concept. Except this new and improved chair was reduced and suspended to lessen the bulk of the Ball. He also used clear fiberglass to let the light in from all angles for a weightless effect.
Bubble Chair usage: This chair looks marvelous in a modern space with simple classic and retro modern art and accessories, along with tons of natural light!
Bubble Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $4200; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1,400
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Dining Armchair – Saarinen
History: Recognized for its ultra comfortable and simple construction, the Dining Chair by Eero Saarinen was designed in 1957 and paved the way for fiberglass shell chairs for their flexible innovation.
Dining Armchair Usage:These chairs would compliment modern furniture in a dining room with a casual table setting.
Dining Armchair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $1800; Authentic quality replicas cost about $400
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Tulip Chair – Saarinen
History: This sexy Tulip chair is famous for the curvaceous impression it made back in 1956. Eero Saarinen made history with its pedestal base as the first one legged chair. It is a pure expression of modernism and is as popular today as it ever was.
Tulip Chair usage: The Tulip chair looks delectable as a dining chair with minimal modern furnishings and a table that is subtle enough to let this chair do all the talking.
Tulip Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $1290; Authentic quality replicas cost about $200
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Womb Chair – Saarinen
History: The Womb Chair is probably one of the most comfortable Saarinen chairs in history. Made in 1948 as a request by Florence Knoll, the chair was manufactured just for and by her!
Womb Chair Usage: With its cradle form designed for a relaxed seating position, the Womb chair is perfect for a modern living room as an accent piece or perhaps a quiet corner where one can kick off their shoes and catnap on this little piece of heaven.
Womb Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $3000; Authentic quality replicas cost about $200
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Bibendum Chair – Eileen Gray
History: The Eileen Gray Bibendum Chair is one of a kind for its form and function with its tubular torso and plush lounge seating. It was created in the early 1920’s for a millionaire who commissioned Eileen Gray to design her home from the ground up.
Bibendum Chair usage: This versatile over-sized chair would play up any fun modern home with its curved lines and shapes contrasting against natural elements like wood or stone.
Bibendum Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $5000; Authentic quality replicas cost about $900
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Florence Chair – Florence Knoll
History: This 1954 Florence Chair was part of a collection by Florence Knoll known as “fill-in pieces” which were clean lined and boxy but became modern classics because of the versatility they offer.
Florence Chair usage: We would highlight this large chair using a colorful or printed area rug with organic shaped side tables for added interest.
Florence Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $5720; Authentic quality replicas cost about $700
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Coconut Chair – George Nelson
History: Another modern classic is the Coconut Chair by George Nelson who began designing furniture for Herman Miller in the 60’s. This iconic design resembles a coconut and is super comfortable to lounge in.
Coconut Chair usage: The Coconut chair is the perfect focal point for any room and would happily stir up conversation with anyone who feasts their eyes on it.
Coconut Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $4000; Authentic quality replicas cost about $900
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Wishbone Chair – Wegner
History: The Wishbone Chair was designed in 1950 by Hans Wagner. This boney chair was thoughtfully crafted with a practical purpose for every back rail and armrest.
Wishbone Chair usage: These chairs are perfect as dining chairs but also work well as side chairs in a bedroom or foyer.
Wishbone Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $900; Authentic quality replicas cost about $300
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Risom Lounge Chair – Jens Risom
History: The Risom Lounge Chair designed by Jens Risom in 1941 is the most casual high end lounge chair of its time! Inspired by Scandinavian design and using woven cotton webbing with wood, this design has become a classic in defining modern casual living.
Risom Lounge Chair usage: This lounge chair is versatile and will adapt to any personal taste or style. It can be placed in a family room, library, kid’s bedroom or lounge area for a modern contemporary touch of style.
Risom Lounge Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $1600; Authentic quality replicas cost about $500
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LC4 Chaise Lounge – Le Corbusier
History: Also known as ‘the resting machine’, the LC4 lounge chair gives you a lot to rest your eyes on. Designed by one of the great pioneers of modern architecture and furniture design, Le Corbusier really nailed the essence of relaxation with this one in 1928. This lounge chair was far beyond its time and still resembles a post modern piece of art, which coincidentally is permanently displayed at the Modern Museum of Art in New York City.
LC4 Chaise Lounge usage: Best suited for an ultra modern space, it can be softened up by a contemporary area rug situated in an office or living room next to a tall exotic plant or even a bookcase for a nice composition of color and texture.
LC4 Chaise Lounge Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $2970; Authentic quality replicas cost about $600
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LC2 and LC3 Armchair – Le Corbusier
History: The LC2 Petit Armchair is the mini-me version of the Grand Comfort Chair designed by Le Corbusier in 1928. The difference between the two are that the LC2 is more compact, and the LC3 has down-wrapped cushions that create a softer look and feel. They both possess highly dense seating and a cube shaped body with a cut out for seating that provides maximum comfort in small spaces where design should never be compromised in the absence of floor space.
LC2 and LC3 Armchair usage: The chair works nicely in a modern space against brilliant hardwood floors and a collection of eclectic accessories you’ve acquired from your travels abroad.
LC2 Armchair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $3800; Authentic quality replicas cost about $600
LC3 Grande Model Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $4100; Authentic quality replicas cost about $700
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LC7 Armchair – Le Corbusier
History: Le Corbusier was one of the most influential architects of the 20th Century and still managed to pull off some of the greatest furniture designs in history. The LC7 armchair has the perfect proportions for a chair composed of mostly polished chrome frame.
LC7 Armchair Usage:This rotating chair with its interesting lines makes a dynamic dining chair and also suits any art studio as a desk chair as well.
LC7 Armchair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $1600; Authentic quality replicas cost about $300
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Wassily Chair – Marcel Breuer
History: Designed in 1925 by Marcel Breuer, the Wassily chair is artistic, funky and timeless with its lightweight construction and dynamic lines. Also known as the Model B3, the Wassily was revolutionary for the manufacturing methods and innovative use of bent steel tubes and canvas.
Wassily Chair usage: With an urban flair, this sculptural chair would be stand out amongst natural materials like stone, brick and wood and would compliment any living or dining space in a modern home.
Wassily Armchair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $2000; Authentic quality replicas cost about $400
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Little Tulip Chair – Paulin
History: Pierre Paulin designed the little Tulip chair in 1965 which was a spinoff of the big Tulip chair. Its back and arms open up like a flower blooming away from the seat.
Little Tulip Chair usage: The little Tulip makes a great side, dining and desk chair and would look great in a modern or traditional space.
Little Tulip Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $1700; Authentic quality replicas cost about $600
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Cone Chair – Verner Panton
History: The Cone Chair by Verner Panton is popular for its cone shaped silhouette and striking color. It was designed for a Danish restaurant in 1956 but today is used in many settings including bars, lounges, hotel lobbies, and conference rooms.
Cone Chair usage:This fun chair would be stunning in a lounge or office since the base in on a swivel and the back is tall enough for a king or queen.
Cone Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $2300; Authentic quality replicas cost about $800
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Heart Chair – Verner Panton
History: Similarly flamboyant is the Verner Panton Heart chair which was made a year after the Cone and given its name for obvious reasons. Given a contemporary interpretation of the classic wing chair, the Heart has retro style and seems fitting in open spaces with high ceilings like restaurants, bars, and hotels.
Heart Chair usage: This chair would also look great in an open modern loft space with other funky casual furniture.
Heart Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $3700; Authentic quality replicas cost about $900
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S Chair – Verner Panton
History: This classic award winning chair called the Panton S chair by Verner Panton was created in 1967 and is quite popular among modern design aficionados. Panton created the first single-form injection-molded plastic chair and went on to design the S chair for the demand of its eye catching curves.
S Chair Usage: This chair looks amazing in any style home as a dining or office chair and complimented with classic accents to balance the modern sleekness of this chair.
S Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $260; Authentic quality replicas cost about $180
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Corona Chair – Paul Volther
History: The Corona Chair by Paul Volther was produced in 1968 and is simply a striking piece of furniture with its seemingly floating spine. Originally crafted from solid oak, different materials were trialed to find that steel was the best way to mass produce it.
Corona Chair usage: This chair would suit a clean modern lounge space complimented by basic furniture and ornamental accessories throughout to balance the visual weight of this chair.
Corona Chair Price: Licensed version with designer name costs about $7000; Authentic quality replicas cost about $1300
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