Modern furniture has a long history, and much of what is popular in furniture trends today has roots in the past. Styling that nods to designs of the mid-century is very contemporary, and although these iconic chairs made their debut many years ago, they are back with a vengeance and are showing up in fashionable homes around the country. The Front Door is here to explore vintage designs of the coolest pieces around, so take a seat and get ready to discover our favorite modern chairs!
Model 14 Chair
The No. 14 chair, also known as the bistro chair, was introduced in 1859 by the Thonet Brothers, a European furniture manufacturer. Made of bentwood using a unique steam-bending technology, the Model 14 chair took years to perfect. The simple backless design and affordable price made this piece one of the best-selling modern chairs of all time, with about fifty million sold between 1859 and 1930 and million mores sold since.
The LC-4 Chaise Lounge was developed by Swiss-French artist Le Corbusier and French architect Charlotte Perriand. Influenced by the Art Deco movement, this tubular steel piece of furniture is devoid of ornamentation and has a sense of utility in form and function. Very minimalist in design, the LC-4 was part of Le Corbusier’s 1929 Salon d’Automne installation, “Equipment for the Home,” and included the LC-1 (basculant), LC-2 (grand confort, petit modele), and LC-3 (grand confort, grand modele).
The Brno chair (model number MR50) has become a modern furniture classic. Forgoing traditional four leg designs, this cantilever chair features a base that supports weight through legs attached to the front of the seat. German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and German modernist Lilly Reich designed the Brno for the bedroom of the Tugendhat House in Brno, Czech Republic in 1930, and today, the design is extremely popular.
SHOP THE LOOK: Bring one of our favorite modern chairs outdoors with the Denmark Sling Chair.
Also designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, the Barcelona chair was originally made for the German Pavillion, as the country’s entry for the International Exposition of 1929, hosted by Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The original design featured a bolted frame and ivory-colored pigskin upholstery, but in the 1950s it was redesigned, and now this modern chair boasts a sleek stainless steel base and tufted cushioning with bovine leather. In 1953, Mies ceded his rights and his name on the design to furniture company, Knoll, a collaboration that renewed popularity in the Barcelona.
SHOP THE LOOK: The Soda II Futon is sleek and modern, very similar to the Barcelona.
Finnish artist Alvar Aalto introduced the High Stool and Stool E60 in 1932, and today these stools are used in Apple Stores across the world to serve as seating for customers. The E60 model is actually stackable, providing space-saving convenience with a simple and modern design. This piece is a furniture icon, and we don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Rietveld Zigzag Chair
Bold and one-of-a-kind, the minimalistic Zigzag Chair was designed by Dutch furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld in 1934. Using dovetail joints, this piece is made by merging four flat wooden tiles into a Z-shape. This modern chair was originally produced for Rietveld Schroder House in Utrecht and is now produced by the Italian manufacturer, Cassina S.p.A..
SHOP THE LOOK: Customize your own Zigzag chair here.
One of the world’s most iconic modern chairs, the LCW chair, also known as Eames Lounge Chair Wood, is a mid-century modern classic. Designed by the distinguished husband and wife team, Charles and Ray Eames, this chair is retailed around the world and prices for new units continue to rise. Originally attempting to shape plywood into compound curves to mimic the shape of the human leg, the dynamic duo created the LCW in 1946, which was picked up by furniture manufacturers Herman Miller and Vitra to produce the timeless design.
Series 7 Chair
The Series 7 chair, also known as the Model 3107 chair, was created in 1955 and is now the most copied chair in the world. Ironically, the original design by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen is actually a copy itself, inspired by a chair made by Charles and Ray Eames. Widely believed to be used in Lewis Morley’s iconic photograph of Christine Keeler, the Series 7’s sales rose dramatically after the picture was published, although the chair in the photos turned out to be an imitation.
SHOP THE LOOK: For a plush version of the Series 7, check out the Prism Accent Chair.
Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman has a design inspired by the traditional English Club Chair. Made by design duo Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 for Herman Miller furniture company, these furnishings were originally made from molded plywood and leather. Charles’ vision was for a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” It first appeared on the Arlene Francis Home show on NBC, and following the debut, Herman Miller launched an advertising campaign that highlighted the versatility of the chair, making it one of the industry’s most iconic modern furnishings.
SHOP THE LOOK: We love the classic look of the Tampa Recliner Chair and Ottoman Pack.
Arne Jacobson developed the Swan chair and couch in 1958 for the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. With its mid-century aesthetic, curved edges, and star-shaped base, the Swan quickly became recognized and highly coveted. It was produced from 1964-1974 and was reintroduced in 2000 as contemporary homes started to become more modern in design.
SHOP THE LOOK: The Golden Swan Accent Chair will make a modern statement in any living space.
These ten iconic modern chairs will add a dash of mid-century flair to your home, and their distinguished designs are refined and classic. Although these antique furnishings in their original forms may be hard to come across, you don’t have to be an antique collector to get most of these looks, so be a style icon and give your space a makeover with these modern chairs!