Why stand when you can sit? These wise words (paraphrased from Sir Winston Churchill) may have inspired hundreds of designers from around the world, as there are as many chair designs on the market as there are people who need to park it. Still, there are standouts of modern chair design that are worth a closer look. We’ve rounded up 10 different chairs from 10 different countries to showcase just what’s up with sitting down all around the world.
One of the most important, best recognized and well-loved pieces of mid-century modern design, the Eames Lounge Chair from Herman Miller is an icon of American modernism. It takes part of its inspiration from America’s pastime, modeled in part after the worn-in comfort of a catcher’s mitt. Luxurious leathers and fine molded veneers in an array of colorways make this ultimate comfort piece a status symbol worthy of any American dream.
Not your grandfather’s chair, Tom Dixon’s spin on the English roll arm chair looks more at home in an urban loft with industrial accents than a dim country estate. Of course, the traditional-with-a-twist design will look great wherever you put it, but it’s no wallflower. Dixon’s design prowess has elevated the Wingback Chair‘s ergonomics and silhouette for a modern take on this beloved fireside staple.
Contrary to its name, just about anything is possible when it comes to a collaboration with Kartell and legendary designer Philippe Starck. Both Italian design and Starck himself are renowned for their innovative visions and processes, resulting in a dimensional and fun armchair that goes inside or out with style. Mr. Impossible is fun, fashionable, and full of flair; a surprising and sophisticated chair design from an iconic duo.
Rooted in Barcelona’s thriving design center, Santa & Cole focuses on industrial design that prizes quality, creating a line of selective and thoughtful designs aimed at fostering civil coexistence. So what does that mean? Think of them as editors of daily experience; they’re dedicated to ensuring the end user (you) gets to enjoy a well-made product that works just as you think it should. Their Belloch Chair was the first chair to mix a plastic seat and back with wood or aluminum legs, and is stackable for ease of storage.
As China emerges as a global superpower in its own right, studios are popping up that merge Eastern and Western ideals into some seriously nice design. Focusing on the modern urban population, m.a.d. Furniture Design combines form, function, and affordability for an exploding demographic that has an eye for contemporary design. Equally at home in an office or a living room, the Sling Lounge Chair has a streamlined silhouette that’s easy to dress up or down.
It might be a stereotype, but the open, honest, and friendly simplicity ascribed to Canada is certainly a compliment when it comes to Gus Modern furniture. Their products, like the Halifax Chair, are straightforward and clean, designed to impress with simple, industrial construction and luxuriously high-quality materials. Add to that a dedication to sustainable production, and it’s easy to see why Gus Modern is an exemplary representation of the values of the Great White North.
Combining art and comfort with a typically Dutch sense of quirkiness, Artifort has been in the game for more than 125 years. With stunning artistic offerings like the Butterfly Chair, it’s easy to see why they have such staying power. Each piece is a testament to the talent and dedication to excellence that’s common to the designers and skilled artisans who produce Artifort furniture.
Designed by French brothers after a Parisian bistro staple and manufactured in Italy by a Swiss company, the Belleville Armchair by Vitra is truly a European Union. But there’s nothing neutral about Vitra’s design philosophy. A powerhouse of mid-century modernism, Vitra’s style is both playful and elegant, from Danish Modern and Italian design icons to the candy-colored pop-art pieces by Verner Panton.
Alvar Aalto’s masterpiece of modern Nordic design began as a chair for tuberculosis convalescents to recline in on their balconies, breathing in the fresh air that was hoped to make them well again. Aalto is known for his mission to connect design with comfort and well-being, all infused with Scandinavian sensibilities. Now available from Artek, the Paimio Chair ticks all the Nordic design boxes, from pure materials to expert engineering to organic curves–all while remaining simply comfortable.
No international design tour would be complete without a traipse through Denmark. With so many designers and studios to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one favorite. As far as simplicity goes, Muuto brings Scandinavian elegance into every design they produce. The Nerd Chair is precisely engineered to fit together in an innovative way, so its silhouette stands apart from your average wooden side chair. In a variety of colors, the chair adds earthy warmth to many interior schemes with a distinctly modern point of view.
When she’s not polishing up promotions as a Web Content Specialist, Kelsey is practicing how to properly pronounce Danish, if only to be able to say “home is where the ‘hygge’ is.” Aside from Scandinavian design, she spends a lot of time thinking about organic gardening, mini farms, honey bees and England.