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Icons: Madonna and the Klismos Chair

Who else woke up this morning inspired to eat healthier and work out more after seeing Madonna perform during the Super Bowl half time show last night?!?  I know I did!  Honestly, I have not been a big fan of her music over the years but I have to admit it was thrilling for someone my age to see Madonna, a 53 year old pop star icon, look amazing and pull off such a great show.  Just in case you missed it you can see it here...Madonna's Half Time Show.


One of my favorite classes in design school was History of Interior Design.  It was a three credit course where we learned the architectural, ornamentation and furniture styles of each major period starting with the  prehistoric times and ending with today.  The course was extremely time consuming because there was a massive amount of information to learn (I have a 300 page design history dictionary that I typed as proof!).  One of the major takeaways from this class was my new found knowledge of chairs.    If you have a real interest in interior design, I highly recommend you know your chairs.  So I'm doing a series of posts just on iconic chairs.  I hope you enjoy the posts, and hopefully, learn a thing or two along the way.

The first chair I want to highlight is the Klismos Chair, one of my all time favorites.

The Klismos chair was an ancient Greek invention.  This chair design has lasted for over a thousand years and may last for another thousand or more.    I don't believe there are any Klismos chairs left from the ancient Greek period (2,000 B.C - 30 B.C) because they were all made of wood, a material that eventually breaks down over time unless perserved.  So we have ancient Greek pottery and sculpture that shows the chairs design.

Here's an excellent reproduction of an ancient Greek Klismos chair that was based on vase paintings...

The curved backboard was designed to comfortably support the human form.   The rear legs continue as stiles forming one continuous curve while the front legs curve in the opposite direction.  In addition to their beauty they were also practical because they were lightweight and portable.

Here are modern interpretations of the klismos chair.  You will see these chairs in traditional, modern, contemporary and country casual rooms.  The design is so versatile that you will see them as dining chairs, desk chairs and accent chairs.   Upholstery has been added to some so they almost feel like a lounge chair too...almost.  

House Beautiful Kipps Bay Showhouse


House Beautiful Jeffrey Bilhuber

Below is another room designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber where he has combined klismos chairs with another icon, the contemporary Planter dining room table.

House and Garden

Elle Decor

If you were not familiar with the klismos chair before, I guarantee you will now recognize this chair in just about every interior design magazine you pick up.    

It's amazing to me that most chairs today, are mostly interpretations of chairs designed hundreds and in some cases, thousands of years ago.

Have a great day!


s said...

What a great observation and informative commentary about the Super Bowl. While most folks were following the ball, or perhaps a certain hunkey NE quarterback-or eating way too many wings, you were thinking about and looking for design! Great photo examples and explanation of the history of the Klismos. -Funny spellcheck does not recognize it! Kind of cool after the fact-and the work-to have that dictionary. I agree on the importance of knowing about allllll those chairs! Think you might be ready to teach it some day!
Thanks for the read.

Stefanie said...

Thanks for the education. You are so right they are everywhere, just checking our Restoration Hardwares website and they have a hole Klismos collection. Keep on informing us Melissa love your blog!