Every now and then I fantasize about finding this piece of furniture at the Goodwill or at the end of a driveway, awaiting trash pick-up.
I do not remember the furniture I studied before being introduced to this beautiful piece. On the day this chair was mentioned, I remember thinking how elegant and simple it was, how beautiful the lines were. Needeless to say, I paid attention to the history of this chair (and to all things that followed). The Klismos Chair, in a fundatmental way, introduced me to the lines, structure and material of furniture. This chair was my first love.
the history: The Klismos chair is an ancient Greek chair characterized by its broad, curved back and delicately outcurved legs. The chair gained popularity around the mid-fifth century BCE. Early on, this chair was depicted on painted pottery and bas-reliefs. Unfortunately, none of the chairs original construction or pieces remain, but plenty of information exists about the history of this chair.
the construction: The early materials consisted of wood and leather straps with a cushion to sit on (I love the look of the chair without the cushion – the intricate weaving of the leather straps is quite lovely). “The curved, tapered legs of the klismos chair sweep forward and rearward, offering stability. The rear legs weep continuously upward to support a wide concave baskets like a curved tablet, which supports the sitter’s shoulders, or which may be low enough to learn an elbow on.” [Richter, Furniture of the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans]. The chair’s popularity did come to an end eventually due to the construction: the legs bending outward without additional support caused the legs to spread out and snap when sat upon.
the chair today: With the acceptance of the modern movement early on in the 30’s, there were some who wanted to be reassured by the traditional designs that were rooted in a significant history. The most popular and accurate remake of the chair came from Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings around the 1930’s (later mass produced by the Greek firm Saridis). Robsjohnson-Gibbings kept the chairs construction, materials and lines true to their original form in his remake. There have been plenty of remakes of this chair in a variety of materials, shapes and styles. Most notably, the Neo-Classical style of furniture in Europe was most popular with its remakes.
I will own this chair someday…