Jean Marc Fray, French Antiques & Decorative Arts
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Chiavari Chair: A Brief History of a Beautiful Chair


The Chiavari chair is named after the coastal Italian town of Chiavari from which the design of the chair originates.

The coastal town of Chiavari, Italy

Designed in 1807 by craftsman Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi, these chairs have become a staple at special events all over the world. Descalzi modeled his design after several Parisian chairs brought back to him by Marquis Stefano Rivarola, founder of the Economic Society of Chiavari. Descalzi wanted to create a lightweight, utilitarian yet elegant chair. He certainly succeeded.

Chiavari chairs with silver finish

Chiavari chairs today come in a variety of materials and finishes, from lightweight bamboo and beech wood to sturdier bronze and steel. The standard for weddings is a white or natural finish, while awards ceremonies (like the Grammy's or a White House brunch) tend toward glitzier silver or gold.

Gold Chiavari chairs at the White House

The famous chair has even been re-imagined by modern designer, Gio Ponti. Inspired by the traditional Chiavari chairs Ponti had seen at the Italian seaside, he created the Superleggera chair in 1957. Meant to be simple and lightweight (just like the original Chiavari chair) the piece could be lifted with one finger.

Gio Ponti's Superleggera Chair

Although originally created for large gatherings and special events, the Chiavari chair is an elegant and practical decorative piece for any home. It's simplicity and lightness are sure to impress no matter what the occasion...

Gold Chiavari chairs

Silver Chiavari chairs

Rustic Chiavari chairs

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In 1957 I was a young woman furnishing my first home. I bought ten original chiavari chairs for $7.00 each. I still love that elegant original chair. Marilyn Brown

Catherine Urbani said...

My dream to have our location fitted out with the Chiavari Chair, has come around. I own a Location for Events In Exclusive at Castel Sant' Elia, 45 minutes North of Roma. The chairs are a work of art, so beautiful and add a elegant touch to our events.
Viva La Chiavari Chair,
"Zia Cathy"

italian chairs said...

Hi, I really appreciate your blog. Great!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful chair! I just wish people would pronounce it right. It's "kee-ah'-vah-ree" not "sha-var'-ee." That's the Italian pronunciation.
Thanks!

StarLyn said...

I love all of the photos and the history was definitely short, but sweet! Thank you for sharing!