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21 Iconic Mid-Century Modern Chair Designs

The mid-century period (roughly the years between 1940 and 1975) marked a significant era in furniture design history. It was a time of creativity and innovation, where designers broke away from traditional styles and embraced...

The mid-century period (roughly the years between 1940 and 1975) marked a significant era in furniture design history. It was a time of creativity and innovation, where designers broke away from traditional styles and embraced a new wave of minimalism and functionality. The result? Iconic mid-century modern chairs that still captivate us today.

Iconic mid-century modern chairs Image source: @myinsidy @oz.bakhti

Shopping for Mid-Century Modern Chair Designs

If you're in the market for mid-century modern chairs, here are some recommended retailers:

  • Knoll: Designer-approved authentic productions, though they come with a hefty price tag.
  • Design Within Reach: Original, licensed productions that are high-quality investment pieces.
  • Interior Icons: Affordable, quality replicas priced in the mid-range.
  • Eternity Modern: Affordable replicas that won't break the bank.
  • Industry West: Mid-century-inspired everyday furniture designs.
  • Kardiel: Affordable replicas and inspired designs.
  • AllModern: Cheap mid-century design, but you'll need to do some digging to find what you want.

A word of caution: Be wary of small online mid-century furniture retailers offering unusually low prices. Many of them have received poor customer reviews and have failed to deliver as promised.

Iconic MCM Chairs

Now, let's explore some of the most iconic mid-century modern chairs that continue to be adored today. From timeless classics to more affordable dupes, these chairs have left a lasting impact on the world of furniture design.

Wassily Chair

Designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925, the Wassily chair became a symbol of mid-century times. Inspired by the metal frame of a bicycle, Breuer imagined this unique form while studying at the famous Bauhaus school in Germany. Interestingly, the chair was named after his classmate, the renowned painter Wassily Kandinsky!

Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair

Tulip Chair

The tulip chair, a classic mid-century modern design, was part of Eero Saarinen's Pedestal Collection. It features a single leg underneath the base of the seat, with a distinctive swivel function. The curved lines give this chair a futuristic and space-age feel.

Eero Saarinen Tulip Chair

Womb Chair

Designed by Eero Saarinen, the Womb chair was created on the theory that many people have never truly felt security and comfort since leaving the womb. With its high back, wrap-around edges, and arm indentations, this chair aims to provide a sense of safety and coziness. Pair it with a matching footrest for the ultimate relaxation experience.

Eero Saarinen Womb Chair

Cesca Chair

The Cesca chair is an icon of modern furniture design. It was the first tubular steel-framed style of seat that could be mass-produced when it was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1928. With its sleek frame and low, slightly angled back, this chair offers both bounce and the illusion of floating. It comes in a natural wood color or a black framed version.

Marcel Breuer Cesca Chair

Panton Chair

The Panton chair, also known as the "Stacking Chair," was the first chair to be made entirely out of plastic in one single piece. Designed by Verner Panton in the 1960s, its unique S-shape was inspired by a neatly stacked pile of plastic buckets. This chair is available in a wide range of colors and adds a retro touch to any space.

Verner Panton Chair

Wishbone Chair

The Wishbone chair, also known as the CH24 chair or Y chair, features a woven rope seat and bent wooden armrests. Designed by Hans Wegner in 1949, this chair draws inspiration from East Asian design and modernist ideals. Its graceful shape and ergonomic design make it both comfortable and visually appealing.

Wishbone Chair

Eames Lounge Chair

The Eames lounge chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956, is a true masterpiece. Made of molded plywood and leather, this chair was inspired by a first baseman's baseball mitt. Its timeless style and unparalleled comfort have made it an enduring favorite.

Eames Lounge Chair

Barcelona Chair

Created by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929, the Barcelona chair exudes timeless elegance. Originally designed for the Barcelona International Exhibition, this chair is still widely recognized today. It comes in classic black, warm caramel, and creamy white, adding sophistication to any space.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair

Eames Molded Plastic/Fiberglass Chair

The Eames molded plastic/fiberglass chair features a shell-like design that exudes both style and adaptability. With its rounded back and high edges, this chair provides a comfortable and versatile seating option. You can choose between plastic armless or fiberglass armchair versions.

Eames molded plastic chair

Egg Chair

The Egg chair, designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958, is a true testament to Danish modernism. Its sculptural elegance and cocoon-like shape make it a standout piece. Originally created for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, this chair remains an iconic symbol of style and comfort.

Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair

Bertoia Chair

Also known as the Diamond chair, the Bertoia chair is a sculptural masterpiece. Designed by Harry Bertoia in 1952, this open-form metal chair is inspired by sculptures. Its diamond wire seat and back, coupled with bent steel leg frames, create a visually striking piece. For added comfort, consider adding a cushion.

Bertoia Diamond Chair

Jeanneret Chair

Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss designer, contributed some of the best mid-century modern chair designs. His "Chandigarh" armchair, crafted from wood and cane, features a unique block style. With its braided cane back and base, this chair showcases the blending of modern European ideals and Indian traditional spirit. Discover more about Pierre Jeanneret chairs and where to find replicas.

Jeanneret Chair

Platner Armchair

The Platner Armchair, designed by Warren Platner in 1966, is a stunning blend of angles and curves. Its unique construction consists of dozens of metal rods that support the seat cushion, backrest, and arms. The result is a chair that adds a touch of elegance to any dining room or seating area.

Platner Armchair

Paulistano Chair

The Paulistano lounge chair offers the ultimate in mid-century comfort. With its leather bucket-style seat and a frame made from a single continuous bent steel bar, this chair is both stylish and sturdy. Designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, it flexes with the sitter for maximum relaxation.

Paulistano Armchair

Ball Chair

The Ball chair, designed by Eero Aarnio in 1963, is a true embodiment of unique design. Its spherical shape, cut in half to create a comfortable seating space, offers a cocoon-like experience. Originally created by Aarnio for himself and his wife, this chair is bound to make a statement in any space.

Eero Aarnio Ball Chair

Shell Chair

Designed by Hans Wegner in 1963, the Shell chair is the epitome of comfort and style. With its gently curved wooden seat, this chair has earned the nickname "Smiling chair." Its three legs and simple backrest make it a true icon of Wegner's genius.

Hans Wegner Shell Chair

Jetty Chair

The Jetty chair is a versatile and inclusive style of seating commonly found in modern offices. Featuring fully upholstered seats and backs, this chair offers both comfort and functionality. It comes with straight or bent legs, and its slight curved arms extend to the end of the seat base.

Jetty Chair

Easy Chair

The Easy chair, designed by Hans Wegner in the 1950s, is a timeless example of functionalism. With its naturally elegant lines, this chair is the epitome of simplicity and comfort. It's aptly called the "Easy Chair" for a reason.

Hans Wegner Easy Chair

Kangaroo Chair

The Kangaroo chair, a warm wood cane chair by Pierre Jeanneret, features a geometric design and a slightly reclining back. Its unique shape and braided cane material make it a standout piece in any home. Inspired by Jeanneret's trip to India, this chair embodies timeless style.

Jeanneret Kangaroo Chair

Swan Chair

The Swan chair, designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958, is the epitome of elegance. Whether upholstered in vivid colors or classic leather, this chair is instantly recognizable. With its curved lines and comfortable armrests, it adds a touch of Danish modern style to any space.

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chair

Palermo Chair

Also known as the "Butterfly" chair or BKF chair, the Palermo chair showcases a unique frame and fabric connection. Its frame slips into four corner pockets to create a bucket-style seat. This chair, designed in 1938 by Argentine architects working with Le Corbusier's studio, is often associated with boho style.

Palermo Butterfly Chair

The Lady Chair

Designed by Marco Zanuso in 1950 for Arflex, the Lady Chair combines a metal frame with a padded seat and backrest. Its elegant design, upholstered in leather or fabric, exudes functionality and understated style. Zanuso's innovative use of industrial techniques and materials made his designs affordable and mass-produced.

Marco Zanuso Lady Chair

As you can see, these mid-century chair designs were revolutionary for their time. They pushed the boundaries of creativity and introduced futuristic styles that continue to inspire modern furniture design. Whether you're looking for authentic pieces or more affordable replicas, these iconic chairs are sure to add a touch of mid-century flair to your space.

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