Chairs: 1000 Masterpieces of Modern Design, 1800 to the Present Day


I’ve written before about Charlotte and Peter Fiell when their publishing house turned the grand old age of one. Now known as Goodman Fiell and part of the Carlton Publishing Group, Peter and Charlotte have release a follow-up to their 1997 survey, 1000 Chairs with Chairs: 1,000 Masterpieces of Modern Design, 1800 to the Present Day. Don’t get the two confused – they are very different.

And being no strangers to the subject matter they approached this book to showcase 1000 chairs by some of world’s greatest designers, from Alvar Aalto to Marco Zanuso. This comprehensive work traces the fascinating history of the modern chair and explains why it has become such an important cultural phenomenon. You see, totally different to the compendium of 1000 chairs.

The cover shows a chair designed in 1965 by Peirre Paulin, a favourite of Peter Fiell’s. The model 582 Ribbon Chair is “perhaps the most comfortable seating solution in the world. “The Ribbon chair is a loop of upholstered foam that gently cradles the body and provides superlative ergonomic support. Highly sculptural, the Ribbon chair remains a very bold aesthetic statement, especially when upholstered, in psychedelic stretch-jersey fabric specially designed by Jack Lenor Larsen. Despite its blatant Space-Age connotations, this remarkable chair has an enduring appeal thanks to its seductive and inviting organic form.”




The Fiell’s argue that chairs are unique in that they allow distinctive interaction with the user, as their body moulds to the design of the chair, giving the sitter a sense of ‘territoriality’. In addition, the authors explain how chairs are uniquely representative of the cultural phenomena of the time. This is exemplified with Charles and Ray Eames’ Model No. 670 lounge chair (1956), which embodied the emerging television culture of the Fifties, with leather upholstery and a detached footrest for more comfort over extended periods of time.

This book showcases the evolution of the chair from its humble origins to the more contemporarily extrovert designs of today. From the Pre-Raphealite era, through art deco, modernism, and post-modernism, Chairs explores the iconic designs and their designers, revealing the fascinating history of this modest piece of furniture.

Chairs: 1000 Masterpieces of Modern Design is published by Goodman Fiell and on sale now from and all other booksellers.


Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.

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