A Brief History of the Chair and Where We Are Now

April 09, 2019

Sometimes overlooked, appreciated when weary, and utilized many times throughout the average day, dating back to the bygone age, we’re talking about the chair. Whether it's to sit down, tip back (we do not promote tipping your chair back), or dancing with it, the chair has a long history. 

History shows the chair dates back all the way to ancient Egypt, but in that time they weren’t everyday chairs for commoners, “These 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.”[1]

The chair can also be found in the democratic society of Ancient Greece with the Klismos chair, “a comfortable, “democratic chair,” not a throne”.[2] The modern Klismos chair is still being made today.

During the Renaissance the chair began to slowly take the place of the bench. In the Enlightenment, it symbolized the cultural movement of the time, “In totalitarian societies, people still have a penchant for benches. In the age of individualism, everyone got chairs."[3]

With the Industrial Revolution came population growth and brought forth mass production. Factory work standards have improved since the Industrial Revolution, but it is still hugely important that businesses take ownership of knowing how and in what conditions their manufacturing is being done.

The 20th century was full of great furniture designers, several from Denmark (who I personally love) where cabinet making was a well-known craft. Some of the famous 20th century designers are Hans Wegner, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Charlotte Perriand, Charles and Ray Eames, and others. These designers’ styles were influenced by social, economic and political circumstances.

Companies such as IKEA, founded in 1943, revolutionized furniture and were able to sell items cheap due to their innovation with the flat pack system and customers doing assembly themselves. However, furniture and home products such as these that are made from materials such as MDF (medium-density fibreboard, a processed “wood”) are not solid wood, not recyclable and won’t stay in good shape for very long. That has a negative effect on the environment.

The information era came about with the birth of the internet, and made way for companies such as Nestify to showcase their collections online through ecommerce platforms.

So, where are we now? Due in part to the massive amounts of waste from previous eras and the harm it has caused our environment, some believe we are in an era of post-consumerism, or the Age of Experience. Gone are the days where an informed shopper carelessly buys whatever they fancy that’s trending and unnecessarily uses disposable products and packaging and throw away containers. Consumers are much more conscious and are increasingly looking for items that are sustainably sourced, can last a long time, are repairable, and at the end of the products’ life cycle, can be recycled.

Chairs will never go out of style because we as humans tire and long to sit down on a comfortable seat. So, what can you do as a consumer to ensure that you can have your seat and sit in it too? Nestify provides a solution. We call our process Nestify's Four R's, identified by Annie Leonard, environmental activist. They are: reduce, repair, reuse, recycle.

Reduce: First, our furniture is made to last a really long time. Inspired by the great Danish wood workers, using the best sustainably sourced teak in the world, and working with skilled workers who really know chairs, we use the best materials and craftspeople to ensure a long lasting product.

Repair: Second, almost every design we have is repairable and can be reupholstered. That means, if an accident happens, you can repair it. No need to throw it away. You can always contact us for information or check out our Repair page.

Reuse: Third, Nestify products are meant to be reused. If you need to get rid of it, we will take it back and make sure it ends up in a good home through the Nestify Nearly New initiative.

Recycle: Finally, if your Nestify chair was hit by a Mack truck or some other powerful force and is beyond repair, we will recycle the materials.

We all get tired and want to sit down and with Nestify you can feel better about what you’re sitting on.

Recommended readings: 

1. Olsen, C.H., (2014) Wegner Just One Good Chair.

2. W. Rybczynski (2016) Now I Sit Me Down.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_chair

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/08/chairs-history-witold-rybczynski/497657/

[3] Olsen, C.H., (2014) Wegner Just One Good Chair.




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