ro | en
ArgumentNo. 14/2022

Wooden Chairs. Modernist Examples and Student Experiments

  • / PhD assist. designer, “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


The wooden chair is an object as much present in our lives as it is fascinating. Modern examples of good practice are worth researching and continue to inspire the creativity of designers.

The research starts with the study of notable historical references from the modern period and of the way in which the experiments of furniture makers and of the adjacent industry have changed not only the shape of the chair but also people’s perception of the interior and of the objects inside it. Innovative examples of wooden chairs, some of the objects made by Michael Thonet and his sons, by Alvar Aalto and Aino Aalto and by Charles Eames and Ray Eames, are analyzed. Some of the student experiments required by the “Reversed design vs Re-new design: the wooden chair” university project are subsequently described. Most of these examples have as a starting point the works of the designers mentioned above. The freedom offered to the imagination by university workshops can lead to original and valuable solutions, which later on can be constructed with the help of the industrial environment to the ultimate benefit of the user. The examples detailed in the article demonstrate both the use of wood (and its derivatives) as a means of communicating synchronic social values and the innovative resources of sitting furniture design.

As society changes over time so do its needs and demands. Furniture (with the chair as its most representative item) has been and always will be a mirror/tool for society’s needs. For this reason, experiment as a vector of innovation cannot be absent from furniture design or from academic research.


innovative modern chairs, furniture design, student projects, wood and wood products, experiments



  1. Aalto A. Fundation (n.d.). Alvar Aalto Museum, Design Archives (stool 60, Y-leg, X-leg, Paimio chair (41), armchair 42 (31)),, ultima accesare 20 ianuarie 2022 Ando, M., Fleming, H. (2019). Study of Alvar Aalto’s Wood Reliefs for Furniture and Architectural Design, Journal of Design.
  2. History, vol. 32, No. 2. (pp.146-169). UK: Oxford University Press,  
  3. Baudrillard, J. (1968). Sistemul obiectelor. Paris: Ed. Gallimard.
  4. Bravo, A. (2008). Conversation [with Tom Dixon], Dwell Magazine – At Home in the Modern World, Super Natural Modern Wood Homes. (pp.117-120).
  5. Cardoso, M. R., Cardenas, A. K., Albert, W. J. (2021). A biomechanical analysis of active vs static office chair designs, Applied Ergonomics, vol. 96, oct.2021, 103481, ISSN 0003-6870,
  6. Caplan, R. (1982). By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV, and Other Object Lessons. NY: St. Martin's Press.
  7. European Parliament (2020). How to Promote Sustainable Consumption,, news/en/headlines/economy/20201119STO92005/how-to-promote-sustainable-consumption, ultima accesare 17 martie 2022.
  8. Fehlbaum, R., Kries, M. (2018). A trip through time, „Chair Stories -16 Short Films”, Vitra Design Museum, ultima accesare 20 martie 2022,
  9. Hansen Per, H. (2018). Danish Modern Furniture 1930-2016. University Press of Southern Denmark, ISBN 978 87 7674 903 3
  10. Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis (2021). German Sustainability Award Design 2021. The winners, icons, Bentwood chair 214,, ultima accesare 29 iulie 2022.
  11. Nica-Rus, L. (2013). Locuința cu spațiu redus, ideologii moderne și necesități contemporane (lucrare de doctorat nepublicată). Universitatea de Arhitectură și Urbanism „Ion Mincu”, București.
  12. Ngo, D., Pfeiffer, E. (2003). Bent Ply: The Art of Plywood Furniture, New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
  13. Thonet Museum (2021). Thonet – a pioneer of furniture history, standard press kit, Frankenberg,, https://www., ultima accesare 17 martie 2022. 
  14. Xia, X., Spadaccini, C.M., Greer, J.R. (2022). Responsive materials architected in space and time, Nature Reviews Materials, ISSN 2058-8437 (online),