Cheree Amel June 7, 2021 Chair
Amongst the wide range of occasional chairs available today the wingback chair has perhaps the most enduring pedigree. Few people browsing for furniture for their home today realise that the wing chair has a history spanning hundreds of years. The wingback chair is a chair, which is usually fully upholstered, with wings rising up from the arm and joining the back at a 90-degree or wider angle. The original purpose for the wings were assumed to be to prevent drafts in old houses from reaching the upper body or to protect the delicate skin of gentrified ladies from the heat of a roaring fire in the hearth.
If you look at antique French wing chairs, or newer chairs echoing the Louis XIV or Louis XV period, you may well see a lower seat in the bergère style. Similarly, in 18th century England Hepplewhite tried lowering the seat in his designs. He called the wings saddle-cheeks, perhaps knowing that they were called cheeks, not wings, in France. Ears is their other name, used in some parts of Europe, and remembered in the old-fashioned British name lug-chair. (Lugs is slang for ears.) American wing chairs, also called easy chairs, were often considered bedroom furniture suitable for anyone frail or tired, sitting quietly in their room. Both antique and modern wing chairs may be associated with elderly people; a high seat and back with built-in draught-proofing offer an appropriate kind of comfort, and remind us that another name for this piece of furniture is grandfather chair.
In Britain, wing chairs remained in the parlour or living room. Writers in the Victorian era describing idealised scenes of family life round a blazing hearth often mentioned a fireside chair. 19th century chairs were often more generously padded than earlier wingbacks, often filled with a very firm horsehair stuffing. Contemporary designers now produce all sorts of shapes and sizes of wing chair, and yet the early Queen Anne shape has an enduring popularity.Though the functional need for the wing declined as homes moved away from open fires to central heating, the design motif remained steadfastly popular. And not just in traditional furniture designs. Even with modernist furniture design in the 1950s and 1960s new chair designs using new materials (e.g. designs by Grant Featherstone 1951, Edward Wormley designing for Dunbar in the 1950s ‘The Egg‘ by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, Denmark, 1958) either retained or re-invented the wing.
One of the key advantages of owning a leather office chair over a chair with a fabric material is the ease of maintenance. Leather upholstery is generally easy to maintain and can be cleaned simply by wiping the chair with a clean damp cloth. Applying a special leather cleaner every six months or so also maintains the overall appearance of the chair. If carefully maintained, a good quality hide upholstered chair will develop its own patina to give your chair a distinctive appearance as it matures and ages.
Padded metal chairs are somewhat more comfortable than the plain chairs, but offer many of the same advantages. If these chairs are covered in fabric, however, they are more prone to stains from food and other materials. If you only occasionally need chairs, the best option may be to rent the chairs when they are needed for those special occasions. Check with party supply stores about rental rates for both chairs and tables that you may need. Many of the party stores offer delivery and pickup at a slightly higher price. Since the chairs will be returned to the store after your event, you do not have to worry about storage.
The same chairs soon appeared in colonial America. Like other Queen Anne furniture of the early 1700s, they often had cabriole legs and curving lines distinguishing them from earlier styles.The famous cabinet-makers of the age, like Chippendale in London, designed elegant frames to set off the upholstery. If you want a true antique, remember that ”Queen Anne style” is just that: a style and not a guarantee that a chair is 300 years old. Fabrics used were not necessarily subdued or subtle. Bright patterns were seen in both colonial and Georgian drawing rooms. Restorers of 18th century antiques often prefer plain coloured fabrics, but this is not necessary for authenticity. Leather upholstery is also a valid option.
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