By Jo Bailey published
It's fair to say that the wooden chair trend is having a moment. Unsurprisingly, there's been a rise in demand for well-made, handcrafted design in recent years. The increased presence of technology, efforts against a throw-away culture and the yearn to keep traditional skills alive are all factors – to name just a few. So while our lives are more digitalised than ever, craft – and well-made design in general – seems to be capturing our imagination and igniting a change in the way we shop.
Often, handcrafted furniture can be an investment, so when considering the interior design of a space, it's worth thinking about the purpose of each item to ensure they fit within budget. You may wish to splash-out on a statement piece to admire from afar, yet equally, might decide to splurge on an everyday item that's used by all the family – such as the wooden chair, for example.
With so many charming designs on offer, we wanted to focus on this humble seat. We caught up with the craftspeople behind some recently launched chairs that have caught our eye to find out their interior design tips on choosing the right design for you.
Wooden chair trend 2022 – what you need to know
The wooden chair has a multitude of uses within many rooms of the home, so interior design trends become less of a deciding factor when selecting the right one for you. Here, we discuss the benefits of choosing handmade, over mass-made.
1. Get inspired by the past
Increasingly, people are looking to furnish their homes with items that have longevity, many referencing the past in search for a timeless aesthetic. As a company that has built a reputation for dealing the finest antiques and reproductions, Jamb knows a thing or two about style that will not date.
Jamb has recently launched the Whitham chair, $5535.12/£4,200, a design that can be found as part of the historic royal collection at Kew. 'We were drawn to its modest scale, extraordinary preserved original paint finish, and low slung posture.' explain Will & Charlotte Fisher, Founders of Jamb.
When discussing how to style this design within a home setting, Will & Charlotte advise that the chair isn't limited to the indoors 'It works equally well as internal furnishing or under cover in a garden setting. We love the idea of using them around a refectory table in a covered loggia. The paint work is meant to feel like the elements have penetrated the chair’s surface and toned them over many years. We can imagine them looking particularly sleepy and well-fitting in that environment.'
'Man has continually redesigned and reinvented what is the most essential of all furniture design. How could something so integral to our daily lives not have a special place in our hearts,’ they continue.
2. Add character by mixing materials
As a previous 'One to Watch' for Homes & Gardens, we have seen furniture designer Edward Collinson go from strength to strength. His thoughtful designs feel like an ode to wood, celebrating the simple beauty of the material.
The Low Back chair, $698.48/£539, by Edward Collinson, is a pared-back design with beautiful proportions. The chair has been hand-turned on a lather and built using split tenon joinery for a robust finish. ‘This design was a very small leap from a milking stool. The back rest was just a gentle addition to that. The materials and finishes are much more challenging, the bent back, the leather wrapped seat top, the geometry and structure. We produce the leather wrapped version of this chair in many different leathers for our customers. A bespoke leather choice is a great way to add personality and individuality,’ explains Edward Collinson, Furniture Designer.
Aware that, in the grand scheme, the current interior design trend is still very much for fast fashion, Edward appreciates that the small changes we've seen in recent years will ultimately make a difference. 'There is an ever-increasing trend for “better”, which is healthier, but it's often for those fortunate enough to be able to afford handmade designs'
He goes on to explain why he thinks the wooden chair is thought of so affectionately 'We’re invited into that history, we’re invited to sit down. I think thats what draws us to them, in an obvious way. They are designed for us.’
3. Choose decorative details for stylish seating
In recent months, we have seen wonderful waves making their way onto homewares. It's fair to say, just like the scallop was for 2020, the wave is 'the motif' of 2021. Like many trends, this isn't the first time around for the wave – many designs throughout history have made their own waves within the interiors world.
Sarah & Caroline Stemp, Founders of Sascal Studio, reveal the inspiration behind the new Wave Ladderback chair, $909.34/£690 'The chair came about after we sourced a set of antique wavy chairs for one of our client's. Once we posted them on Instagram the response was so overwhelming we tried desperately for over six months to source additional sets. After months and months of searching with no luck, we decided to create our own version.’
‘We used the antique chair as a starting point but updated the design to more of a dining chair rather than keeping it on the smaller antique side. We knew we wanted to streamline the design and make our version slightly more contemporary (whilst still using traditional rush seating) with straighter lines and a cleaner oak finish. It was important that the chair could adapt to any interior.
'Likewise, the antique set were not the most comfortable of chairs and it was important our version looked really elegant whilst also being really comfortable – we tapered the legs and made the back recline ever so slightly to ensure it was a chair you could sit in comfortably for hours. We now use ours as our desk chairs,’ explain the sister design-duo.
They advise, 'Wood will always ground a scheme and go with every single color so adding a wooden chair into a space will always add that sense of familiarity whilst also helping to bring warmth into the space.’
4. Make a sustainable choice
As an early advocate for sustainable design and two-time winner of the Queen's Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development, Benchmark really are 'the benchmark' on sustainable furniture design. They even go as far as to verify the Co2 values that its products have on the world, thereby giving its customers a true basis to make their furniture buying choices.
As the Co-Founder of Benchmark, alongside Sir Terence Conran, Sean Sutcliffe has spent many years championing the importance of quality design ‘There is an increased recognition of the part that we can all play in reducing our impact on the environment. We are seeing that people are much more aware of the need to live more consciously, and with that comes a desire for fewer but better quality pieces that are well-made, timeless and will last a long time’ says Sean Sutcliffe, Co-Founder for Benchmark.
One of the firms most recent launches was the Ovo armchair, $1805.50/£1,370, by Foster + Partners for Benchmark. 'Foster + Partners were seeking to design a chair to fit with the existing OVO collection of tables which would have a refined yet pared back aesthetic whilst delivering warmth and tactility. The curve of the back, the gently pillowed arms and the softened edges make It a joy to touch and to sit in,' explains Sean.
When asked about the importance of artisanal design, he says 'It has a personality of its own – in our world of mass machine production, the handmade object provides a connection to the heart and the hand of the craftsman which gives it a value that cannot be counted or described but that we feel and treasure. For calm, restorative and connective spaces, focus on flowing lines, natural materials and colors bringing in a mix of textures for interest.’
5. Support British craftsmanship
'Looking to the past and looking to nature are our two constant sources of inspiration' says Sarah Kelley, Head of Brand & Creative for Rowen & Wren. 'We're all so much more mindful of small makers, the handmade, the locally sourced because of a wider appreciation of artisanship but also an increased awareness of waste. Well-made pieces are an antidote to throwaway furniture,' she adds.
This year, we saw the launch of the Alexander chair, $1,280.98/£972 by Alex Bilton for Rowen & Wren. 'This chair is one of those pieces that you will simply never want to part with. It makes for a majestic head of table seat, suiting farmhouse kitchens as much as more minimalist Danish interiors. Similarly, it looks lovely as a bathroom or bedroom chair or quite simply an accent piece at the end of a hallway corridor,' explains Sarah.
'We have long loved classic rush-pad chairs and were keen to recreate a heritage piece with natural rush rather than the paper or twisted cord variety. A revival piece was the aim that was a through and through celebration of British-grown materials and British-made design.'
Sarah goes on to discuss the importance of making sure this chair is made in Britain in its entirety, stating 'We were very clear that it was to be made from British timber and natural rush. We spoke to so many rush weavers across the UK to learn as much as we could and uncovered a tiny workshop on the Scottish borders that grow their own ash close by. Not only that, their rush is harvested in Stratford Upon Avon so that we can say we great joy that it's a piece entirely grown and made in Britain.'
6. Invest in a design classic
When shopping for living room furniture ideas, it's good to go with your gut. Consider the styles that you're drawn to, those that will come with you on every house move and the designs that will be passed down through the generations. Seeking a design classic – or a style that has the potential to become one – could be a great place to start for a chair that will stand the test of time.
Earlier this year, Jasper Morrison designed the soon iconic Iso-Lounge chair (2021), $2055.90/£1,560, for Isokon Plus at Twentytwentyone . 'It's a particularly elegant and simple design, whilst quietly representing modernist principles and technologically progressive manufacture. The structural strength of the cantilever is provided through a depth of ply, that ‘feathers’ to a finer profile where not required.' comments Simon Alderson, Co-Founder of Twentytwentyone.
If Jasper Morrison's Cork Chair for Vitra, designed in 2007, is anything to go by then the Iso-Lounge chair, with its similar design aesthetic, is set to become an heirloom of the future.
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