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The Zoomer Edit

Collectors Corner: 10 Vintage Mid-Century Chairs

BY Viia Beaumanis | September 22nd, 2021

Wishbone through tulip, mid-century design produced a slew of sculptural, instantly recognizable chairs that are as popular today as when they were first produced. Look for vintage and reproduction or more budget-friendly knock-offs.

Here, we list 10 inspired classics that continue to appreciate in value and esthetic. 

 

1. Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner (1949)

Inspired by ‘Ming’ chairs, Danish designer Hans Wegner created his own version of the Chinese classic. The design incorporates curved, bent-wood armrests with a wishbone shaped back for a graceful silhouette. 

Vintage Original: $5,200/pair (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $1,030/one (dwr.com)

Knock-off: $336/one (roveconcepts.com)

2. Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen (1955)

Finnish-American design-architect Eero Saarinen hated the look of multiple table and chair legs. So, he came up with the Tulip collection, a line of tables and chairs, each perched on a central pedestal. 

Vintage Original: $1,225 (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $1,648 (knoll.com)

Knock-off: $311 (roveconcepts.com)

3. Molded Plastic Chair by Eames (1950)

More charmingly referred to as an “Eiffel chair” for its wire supported base, this classic fibreglass seating is now produced in eco-friendly, 100 per cent recyclable polypropylene, and also available in molded wood.

Vintage Original: $980 (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $595 (hermanmiller.com)

Knock-off: metal legs, $39 (structube.com); wood legs, $35 (ifurniture.ca)

4. Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen (1955)

mid-century chairs
Photo: Courtesy of GR Shop

 

Inspired by Charles and Ray Eames’ experiments with molded plywood, the Series 7 chair was an update of Arne Jacobsen’s popular Ant chair, with which it is often confused.

Vintage Original: $750 (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $711 (grshop.com)

Knock-off: $170 (loblaws.ca)

5. Office Chair by Pierre Jeanneret (1955)

mid-century chairs
Photo: Courtesy of My Design Republic

 

These cane-and-wood chairs are among the most sought after by collectors. Commonly known as “Jeanneret chairs,” they were created by Jeanneret for his cousin Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh project in India. Unlike the others, they are not licenced for reproduction and originals fetch thousands at auction.

Vintage Original: $15,000 and up (1stdibs.com)

Licenced Reproduction: None

Knock-off: $480 (franceandsone.ca); $728 (mydesignrepublic.com)

6. Egg Chair by Arne Jaconsen (1958) 

Designed for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair is instantly recognizable. The designer sculpted models out of clay to alight upon the perfect silhouette for his swivelling, cocoon-shaped classic.

Vintage Original: $12,400 (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $10, 825 (dwr.com)

Knock-off: $1,900 (roveconcepts.com)

7. Lounge Chair and Ottoman  by Ray and Charles Eames (1956)

mid-century chairs
Photo: Courtesy of Eternity Modern

 

Their iconic work rendered them among the 20th century’s most renowned tastemakers and this two-piece set is among the best-known designs by the married duo.

Vintage Original: $11,320 (1rstdibs.com)

Licenced Reproduction: $8,120 (hermanmiller.com)

Knock-off: $1,400 (loblaws.ca); $2,560 (eternitymodern.ca)

8. Risom Lounge Chair by Jens Risom (1943)

Working around Second World War shortages, Jens Risom ingeniously repurposed surplus parachute straps for the tight basket weave seat of his timeless classic. 

Vintage Original: $3,365 (1stdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: $1,370 (knoll.com)

Knock-off: $540 (wayfair.ca)

9. LCW Plywood Lounge Side Chair by Eames (1946)

The Eameses pioneered the use of molded plywood with this contoured, ergonomic chair, that was re-issued in 1994 by Herman Miller, the original manufacturer.

Vintage Original: $2,295 (1rstdibs.com)

Licensed Reproduction: US$1,723 (moma.org)

Knock-off: $478 (eternity modern.ca); $286 (wayfair.ca)

10. Shell Chair by Hans Wegner (1963)

With its wing-like seat and trio of arching legs, Wegner’s Shell chair received raves from critics for its avant-garde look. Not such a hit with the public, who found it rather too distinctive, it’s production run was limited and originals, as well as all teak, prototype early models, are highly prized.

Vintage Original: Currently Unavailable

Licensed Reproduction: $4,930 (dwr.com)

Knock-off: $400 (loblaws.ca); $360 (wayfair.ca)

Do you have something in your own collection that you think might be worth a few bucks? Looking to buy or sell? Browse the Zone Classifieds and post your ad here.