Design 101: 19 Iconic Chairs That Are Making a Huge Comeback

Updated 09/30/17
modern chairs
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

If lighting is the jewelry of a room, a statement chair is like the designer bag. Well-designed and expertly crafted, they polish off any room—just like a Chanel 2.55 would an outfit. Made of supple leather, chromium steel, or luxe velvet, these chairs have curves in all the right places and are a testament that when form meets function, beautiful things happen. Like a Hermès Kelly bag, a good modern chair is not a steal, it's an investment that will last a lifetime—and never go out of style. 

We took hint from It girls like Kourtney Kardashian and Jenni Kayne to pick out chairs for our dream ski chalets, our grand dining rooms, and our cozy family rooms. These design aficionados collect Pierre Jeanneret and Hans J. Wegner the way others collect Prada and Hermès. Just like iconic handbags, some are still in production, while others have to be hunted at auctions and antique stores. Ready to invest in your own iconic chair? Learn all about the most iconic chairs of the 20th century—these are the Birkin bags of décor.

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The chair of choice for It girls everywhere, the Flag Halyard chair put Hans Wegner on the map alongside Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe for his mastery of chromium. Jenni Kayne is a proud owner.

Hans J. Wegner Flag Halyard Chair
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Hans J. Wegner Flag Halyard Chair (price on request)

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The perfect wingback chair for modern-design lovers, the Ro Chair is an extra-wide 1.5-seater chair that was made for curling up with a good book. 

Fritz Hansen Ro Chair $3185
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

With the growing popularity of shearling, clam chairs have been popping up a lot in décor lately, but the design dates back to 1940s Denmark. A lot of mystery surrounds this chair, as it was initially attributed to two other designers—Viggo Boesen and Martin Olsen—but it was later discovered to be the work of Philip Arctander.

Philip Arctander Clam Chair $17000
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Originally designed for the French ski resort of Les Arcs in 1968, these leather chairs are quite rare today. The designer, Charlotte Perriand, is one of the few women to make her mark in midcentury design.

Charlotte Perriand Pair of Vintage Les Arcs Chairs $3300
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The butterfly chair is the ultimate icon for boho lovers. Originally designed in Buenos Aires by architects Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, who met as assistants in Le Corbusier's Paris atelier, it is now widely used both indoors and out.

OX Denmarq Trifolium Chair $1087
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed by Hans J. Wegner, the circle chair is a testament of expert craftsmanship. PP Møbler initiated the production of this unique chair in 1986, and the design is still made-to-order today due to its extremely intricate production. It's also the perfect addition to Aerin Lauder's Aspen lodge.

Hans Wegner PP130 Circle Chair
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Hans Wegner PP130 Circle Chair (price on request)

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

One of the most iconic lounge chairs of midcentury designs, the womb chair was born when Florence Knoll challenged Eero Saarinen to design a chair that she could curl up in. 

Eero Saarinen Womb Chair $4690
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed in 1951, the Lady chair was born out of a collaboration between Italian designer Marco Zanuso and the manufacturing company Arflex. The feminine chairs are often covered in a luxe jewel-toned velvet.

Marco Zanuso Pair of Lady Chairs $3500
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed by Finn Juhl in 1940, the Pelican chair was one of the most avant-garde designs of its time. It demonstrates Juhl's philosophy that "a chair is not just a product of decorative art in a space, it is a form and a space in itself."

Finn Juhl Pelican Chair $5944 $5052
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed in 1957, this cantilevered design by French-Brazilian designer Paulo Mendes da Rocha is reminiscent of Mies van der Rohe models with its steel frame and sling seat.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha Paulistano Arm Chair $2100
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The Eames lounge chair needs no introduction. One of the undisputed most iconic modern designs, it represents ultimate comfort. It was developed out of molded plywood technology by Charles and Ray Eames.

Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair $4935
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Originally designed for administrative offices in India in the 1950s, the chair is now anything but modest. Though unassuming in style, the style now routinely sells at auction for more than $15,000. Kourtney Kardashian is a fan and owns roughly 15 of them.

Pierre Jeanneret Set of Two Office Cane Elegant Chairs $16335
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

This chair marks the humble beginnings of an entire molded plywood movement for the Eameses, who began experimenting in their apartment with what they called the "Kazam!" machine.

Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair $919
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

If this chair is good enough for The Apartment by The Line, it's good enough for us. This wicker design was created by Poul Kjærholm and produced by Fritz Hansen in 1967.

Fritz Hansen PK20 Chair $8331
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed in 1949, the Chieftain chair is an icon in Danish furniture art. Finn Juhl was inspired by weaponry and customs from foreign shores when creating this design.

Finn Juhl Chieftains Chair $114478
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Designed in 1963 by Hans J. Wegner, this three-legged molded plywood chair had a short-lived existence until it had a revival moment in the 1990s and was relaunched by Carl Hansen & Søn.

Carl Hansen & Søn Wegner CH07 Shell Chair $2516
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Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

In 1950, the autumn exhibition of the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers Guild was "Hunting Lodge" themed—and the Hunting chair was born. Børge Mogensen later used this technique of adjustable leather straps on his other designs, like the equally iconic Spanish chair.

Børge Mogensen Hunting Chair $4101
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Original illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Born out of the design cooperative GamFratesi, which embodies the marriage between Italian and Danish design, the Beetle chair was inspired by the anatomy of a beetle.

Gubi Beetle Lounge Chair $1317
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Original illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Initially commissioned for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in 1958, the egg chair was revolutionary for its time, with a molded shell covered with leather or fabric upholstery. It was designed by Arne Jacobsen and produced by Fritz Hansen.

Fritz Hansen Egg Chair $10641
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Can you name the chairs below? Click through the gallery above to find out—and pin this guide for future reference. 

Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

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