History Lesson: Stick Around Chair

March 17, 2017

A brief timeline of this royally-inspired seat

It’s no secret that some of our favorite furniture are modern takes of old designs. These simple, functional pieces already feature beautiful curves and solid construction, but we’ll tweak the design here and there until it fits in the modern home. To truly appreciate this artistic process, it’s helpful to learn where these designs got their start and what brought them to where they are today. For the first in a series of posts, we examine our stick around chair—a comfortable, cutting-edge seat with very royal roots.

As Queen Anne ascends the throne of England, a new furniture style (Queen Anne style, natch) gains popularity. Unlike the stiff, straight-back furniture of the past, this style brings serious curves to the table: cabriole legs which dramatically curve twice and splat backs that hug the spine just so. Handcrafted from walnut, Queen Anne-style chairs are more petite and easier to move around during the newest activity among the elite: afternoon tea time.

As the American colonies grow with immigrant populations of skilled British craftsmen, the use of Queen Anne furniture rises. Boston, the leading colonial city, is the first to implement aspects of the new style. Craftsmen in Philadelphia develop their own versions with even more elaborately curved lines.

Craftsmen in colonies such as Boston began constructing seats filled with marsh grass and horse hair. They would pass the hair—which usually came from the mane and tail—over a sharp edge to give it curl and spring.

American craftsmen begin painting handcrafted furniture in decorative ways.
The steel coil spring is invented, revolutionizing seating forever. Inner springs replace stuffing that can shift or look overstuffed, adding support, resiliency and serious comfort.

Although Englishman Edmund Prior invented the process for making patent leather in 1799, it took a century and a half for the first imitation leather to hit the market. The shiny, durable product first appeared at the Chicago Shoe Show and has since expanded to clothing and upholstery in a wide range of colors.
Inspired by their own dining chairs, designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz give the classic Queen Anne-style seats fresh makeovers. Although the chairs’ features—painted frames, faux leather upholstery, edgy nailhead trim—are very of-the-moment, we expect them to stick around (he he) for years to come.

CATEGORIES: backstory