There’s no going wrong with an iconic armchair.
Sitting is a relatively mundane affair. (After all, we humans spend one-fourth of each day seated.) But a great armchair can make sitting down feel a lot more ceremonial. In addition to cradling us in all the places we most need support, an excellent armchair can add inviting style to a room—beckoning us to sit down for a meal at the dining room table, to cozy up for an afternoon spent reading, or to settle in for a day of desk work.
Of course, some armchairs feel more throne-worthy than others. Iconic options, like the Peacock Chair, feel imposing and magnificent—implying grandiosity without sacrificing comfort. And even sleeker, more modern options, like the 45 Chair, make everyday lounging look and feel more luxurious.
Still, when it comes to iconic armchairs, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. These long-standing pieces have endured for a reason: They offer a masterful combination of comfort and aesthetic appeal. So as you think about where you’d like to plant your tush for 6.5 hours each day, consider the classics. And review five of our all-time favorites below.
Designed by Finn Juhl in 1945, the aptly named 45 Chair has become one of the most recognizable pieces from the Danish modern design movement. Thanks to its sleek lines and sculptural silhouette, the chair is understatedly eye-catching. But what made it so iconic was Juhl’s groundbreaking approach to armchair design. Instead of layering upholstery on top of a wooden frame, Juhl separated the two elements: The upholstered seat floats inside the wooden frame. This unique technique earned the 45 Chair high praise, with some calling it “the mother of all modern chairs.”
The Ghost Chair—more formally known as the Louis Ghost Chair—may pay homage to King Louis XVI. But the chair was designed much later, by Philippe Starck in 2002. When designing the Ghost Chair, Starck drew inspiration from the traditional Louis XVI Chair. Both chairs boast similar silhouettes, with round backs, structured seats, and narrow legs. But Starck offered a decidedly postmodern take on the classic piece. By casting the Ghost Chair out of a single sheet of clear plastic, Starck created a piece that was undeniably bold, despite its barely-there appearance.
Pierre Jeanneret Office Chair
Designed by Pierre Jeanneret in the 1950s, the Pierre Jeanneret Office Chair has a somewhat unusual backstory. After the Republic of India was established in 1950, the Indian government asked well-known architect Le Corbusier to design a new city, called Chandigarh. Le Corbusier obliged and asked his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, to create furniture for the city. The result? A series of Chandigarh Chairs, including the Pierre Jeanneret Office Chair. All of Jeanneret’s Chandigarh Chairs were crafted from woven rattan and humidity-resistant teak. And all of them boast striking V-shaped legs, which were designed to be easily replicated by local artisans.
The Peacock Chair has been around for so long that many debate its origins. But some historians have traced the woven chair back to The Philippines in the early 1900s. (This is why the Peacock Chair is also called the Manila Chair or the Philippine Chair.) In the mid-20th Century, the Peacock Chair became a favorite among photographers and celebrities—appearing in everything from an Addams Family cast photo to a portrait of Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party’s founder and Minister of Defense.
One of the most classic pieces of furniture around, the Wingback Chair goes by many names. It answers to Wing Chair, Grandfather Chair, Saddle Cheek Chair, Fireside Chair, and more. But no matter what you call it, the Wingback Chair is sure to make a lovely addition to any space. Known for its relaxed arms and tall cushioned seat back, the Wingback Chair is made for lounging. It also boasts built-in wings or lugs, curved sides designed to protect you from chilly drafts when you’re seated on the cozy chair. (Fun fact: In the late 1600s, when the Wingback Chair first hit the furniture scene, these wings were sometimes called “cheeks.”)