What Are the Different Modern Chair Designs?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Modern chair designs come in many different varieties, and are influenced by a wide range of contemporary and modern design theories. Glorifying form, function, and the use of modern materials, modern chair designs take great influence from the principles of mid-20th century design trends, as well as traditional Japanese design. Some of the best known types of modern chair designs include the egg chair, ball chair, 3107 chair, and Barcelona® chair.

The egg chair was first designed in 1958, and quickly became a symbol of the hip, artistic principles embraced by the modernist design movement. The design resembles an egg shape, with an oblong, sunken seat and high back that curves in toward the apex of the egg. The arms are curved and padded, and the chair traditionally sits on a swiveling or rolling base. Though the original egg chairs were made of foam covered in leather, fabric versions are also quite popular. Some new variations include features such as built in speakers or headphones near the top of the chair, or interior pockets on the armrests.


Modern chair designs such as the ball chair were meant to create a specific experience for the user, in this case a sense of enclosure and privacy. Ball chairs, also known as globe chairs, feature a deep, spherical body that surrounds the user. The sunken position of the seat may force the user to tuck his or her feet up inside the ball shape, which arches overhead to create a protective environment. These modern chair designs are often made from a fiberglass or plastic exterior with upholstered padding, and typically sit on a swiveling base.

The 3107 chair serves as the basis for a great many modern chair designs. Simplistic and symmetrical, this simple chair is usually made out of wood, plastic, or metal, and puts a premium on versatility, rather than comfort. Minimalist in principles, these modern chair designs are comprised of four legs, a flat, convex seat, and a simple back-support. Arms are generally not included, and the chairs are often designed to be easily stacked or configured in a variety of formations.

The Barcelona® chair is a distinctive design easily translated into couches and daybeds as well as single chairs. Featuring extremely slim, curved metal legs and a thick pad for the seat and back, these chairs were originally designed by Ludvug Mies van der Rohe, one of the fathers of modernism. Barcelona chairs are meant to be simple and utilitarian; some models can even be folded. Though fabric-covered versions exist, traditional models are covered in leather.


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