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This article is about furniture. Chair_sentence_0

For other uses, see Chair (disambiguation). Chair_sentence_1

One of the basic pieces of furniture, a chair is a type of seat. Chair_sentence_2

Its primary features are two pieces of a durable material, attached as back and seat to one another at a 90° or slightly greater angle, with usually the four corners of the horizontal seat attached in turn to four legs—or other parts of the seat's underside attached to three legs or to a shaft about which a four-arm turnstile on rollers can turn—strong enough to support the weight of a person who sits on the seat (usually wide and broad enough to hold the lower body from the buttocks almost to the knees) and leans against the vertical back (usually high and wide enough to support the back to the shoulder blades). Chair_sentence_3

The legs are typically high enough for the seated person's thighs and knees to form a 90° or lesser angle. Chair_sentence_4

Used in a number of rooms in homes (e.g. in living rooms, dining rooms, and dens), in schools and offices (with desks), and in various other workplaces, chairs may be made of wood, metal, or synthetic materials, and either the seat alone or the entire chair may be padded or upholstered in various colors and fabrics. Chair_sentence_5

Chairs vary in design. Chair_sentence_6

An armchair has armrests fixed to the seat; a recliner is upholstered and under its seat is a mechanism that allows one to lower the chair's back and raise into place a fold-out footrest; a rocking chair has legs fixed to two long curved slats; and a wheelchair has wheels fixed to an axis under the seat. Chair_sentence_7

Etymology Chair_section_0

Chair comes from the early 13th-century English word chaere, from Old French chaiere ("chair, seat, throne"), from Latin cathedra ("seat"). Chair_sentence_8

History Chair_section_1

Main article: History of the chair Chair_sentence_9

The chair has been used since antiquity, although for many centuries it was a symbolic article of state and dignity rather than an article for ordinary use. Chair_sentence_10

"The chair" is still used as the emblem of authority in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom and Canada, and in many other settings. Chair_sentence_11

In keeping with this historical connotation of the "chair" as the symbol of authority, committees, boards of directors, and academic departments all have a 'chairman' or 'chair'. Chair_sentence_12

Endowed professorships are referred to as chairs. Chair_sentence_13

It was not until the 16th century that chairs became common. Chair_sentence_14

Until then, people sat on chests, benches, and stools, which were the ordinary seats of everyday life. Chair_sentence_15

The number of chairs which have survived from an earlier date is exceedingly limited; most examples are of ecclesiastical, seigneurial or feudal origin. Chair_sentence_16

Chairs were in existence since at least the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (c. 3100 BC). Chair_sentence_17

They were covered with cloth or leather, were made of carved wood, and were much lower than today's chairs – chair seats were sometimes only 10 inches (25 cm) high. Chair_sentence_18

In ancient Egypt chairs appear to have been of great richness and splendor. Chair_sentence_19

Fashioned of ebony and ivory, or of carved and gilded wood, they were covered with costly materials, magnificent patterns and supported upon representations of the legs of beasts or the figures of captives. Chair_sentence_20

Generally speaking, the higher ranked an individual was, the taller and more sumptuous was the chair he sat on and the greater the honor. Chair_sentence_21

On state occasions the pharaoh sat on a throne, often with a little footstool in front of it. Chair_sentence_22

The average Egyptian family seldom had chairs, and if they did, it was usually only the master of the household who sat on a chair. Chair_sentence_23

Among the better off, the chairs might be painted to look like the ornate inlaid and carved chairs of the rich, but the craftsmanship was usually poor. Chair_sentence_24

The earliest images of chairs in China are from sixth-century Buddhist murals and stele, but the practice of sitting in chairs at that time was rare. Chair_sentence_25

It wasn't until the twelfth century that chairs became widespread in China. Chair_sentence_26

Scholars disagree on the reasons for the adoption of the chair. Chair_sentence_27

The most common theories are that the chair was an outgrowth of indigenous Chinese furniture, that it evolved from a camp stool imported from Central Asia, that it was introduced to China by Christian missionaries in the seventh century, and that the chair came to China from India as a form of Buddhist monastic furniture. Chair_sentence_28

In modern China, unlike Korea or Japan, it is no longer common to sit at floor level. Chair_sentence_29

In Europe, it was owing in great measure to the Renaissance that the chair ceased to be a privilege of state and became a standard item of furniture for anyone who could afford to buy it. Chair_sentence_30

Once the idea of privilege faded the chair speedily came into general use. Chair_sentence_31

Almost at once the chair began to change every few years to reflect the fashions of the day. Chair_sentence_32

Thomas Edward Bowdich visited the main Palace of the Ashanti Empire in 1819, and observed chairs engrossed with gold in the empire. Chair_sentence_33

In the 1880s, chairs became more common in American households and usually there was a chair provided for every family member to sit down to dinner. Chair_sentence_34

By the 1830s, factory-manufactured “fancy chairs” like those by Sears. Chair_sentence_35

Roebuck, and Co. allowed families to purchase machined sets. Chair_sentence_36

With the Industrial Revolution, chairs became much more available. Chair_sentence_37

The 20th century saw an increasing use of technology in chair construction with such things as all-metal folding chairs, metal-legged chairs, the Slumber Chair, moulded plastic chairs and ergonomic chairs. Chair_sentence_38

The recliner became a popular form, at least in part due to radio and television. Chair_sentence_39

The modern movement of the 1960s produced new forms of chairs: the butterfly chair (originally called the Hardoy chair), bean bags, and the egg-shaped pod chair that turns. Chair_sentence_40

It also introduced the first mass-produced plastic chairs such as the Bofinger chair in 1966. Chair_sentence_41

Technological advances led to molded plywood and wood laminate chairs, as well as chairs made of leather or polymers. Chair_sentence_42

Mechanical technology incorporated into the chair enabled adjustable chairs, especially for office use. Chair_sentence_43

Motors embedded in the chair resulted in massage chairs. Chair_sentence_44

Materials Chair_section_2

Chairs can be made from wood, metal, or other strong materials, like stone or acrylic. Chair_sentence_45

In some cases, multiple materials are used to construct a chair; for example, the legs and frame may be made from metal and the seat and back may be made from plastic. Chair_sentence_46

Chairs may have hard surfaces of wood, metal, plastic, or other materials, or some or all of these hard surfaces may be covered with upholstery or padding. Chair_sentence_47

The design may be made of porous materials, or be drilled with holes for decoration; a low back or gaps can provide ventilation. Chair_sentence_48

The back may extend above the height of the occupant's head, which can optionally contain a headrest. Chair_sentence_49

Chairs can also be made from more creative materials, such as recycled materials like cutlery and wooden play bricks, pencils, plumbing tubes, rope, corrugated cardboard, and PVC pipe. Chair_sentence_50

In rare cases, chairs are made out of unusual materials, especially as a form of art or experimentation. Chair_sentence_51

Raimonds Cirulis, a Latvian interior designer, created a volcanic hanging chair that is a handmade out of volcanic rock. Chair_sentence_52

Peter Brenner, a Dutch-born German designer, has created a chair made from lollipop sugar – 60 pounds (27 kg) of confectioners' sugar. Chair_sentence_53

Design and ergonomics Chair_section_3

Chair design considers intended usage, ergonomics (how comfortable it is for the occupant), as well as non-ergonomic functional requirements such as size, stacking ability, folding ability, weight, durability, stain resistance, and artistic design. Chair_sentence_54

Intended usage determines the desired seating position. Chair_sentence_55

"Task chairs", or any chair intended for people to work at a desk or table, including dining chairs, can only recline very slightly; otherwise the occupant is too far away from the desk or table. Chair_sentence_56

Dental chairs are necessarily reclined. Chair_sentence_57

Easy chairs for watching television or movies are somewhere in between depending on the height of the screen. Chair_sentence_58

Ergonomic design distributes the weight of the occupant to various parts of the body. Chair_sentence_59

A seat that is higher results in dangling feet and increased pressure on the underside of the knees ("popliteal fold"). Chair_sentence_60

It may also result in no weight on the feet which means more weight elsewhere. Chair_sentence_61

A lower seat may shift too much weight to the "seat bones" ("ischial tuberosities"). Chair_sentence_62

A reclining seat and back will shift weight to the occupant's back. Chair_sentence_63

This may be more comfortable for some in reducing weight on the seat area, but may be problematic for others who have bad backs. Chair_sentence_64

In general, if the occupant is supposed to sit for a long time, weight needs to be taken off the seat area and thus "easy" chairs intended for long periods of sitting are generally at least slightly reclined. Chair_sentence_65

However, reclining may not be suitable for chairs intended for work or eating at table. Chair_sentence_66

The back of the chair will support some of the weight of the occupant, reducing the weight on other parts of the body. Chair_sentence_67

In general, backrests come in three heights: Lower back backrests support only the lumbar region. Chair_sentence_68

Shoulder height backrests support the entire back and shoulders. Chair_sentence_69

support the head as well and are important in vehicles for preventing "whiplash" neck injuries in rear-end collisions where the head is jerked back suddenly. Chair_sentence_70

Reclining chairs typically have at least shoulder-height backrests to shift weight to the shoulders instead of just the lower back. Chair_sentence_71

Some chairs have foot rests. Chair_sentence_72

Around 15% of women and 2% of men need foot rests, even at the 16-inch (41 cm) chair height. Chair_sentence_73

A stool or other simple chair may have a simple straight or curved bar near the bottom for the sitter to place their feet on. Chair_sentence_74

Some chairs have two curved bands of wood (also known as rockers) attached to the bottom of the legs. Chair_sentence_75

They are called rocking chairs. Chair_sentence_76

A kneeling chair adds an additional body part, the knees, to support the weight of the body. Chair_sentence_77

A sit-stand chair distributes most of the weight of the occupant to the feet. Chair_sentence_78

Many chairs are padded or have cushions. Chair_sentence_79

Padding can be on the seat of the chair only, on the seat and back, or also on any arm rests or foot rest the chair may have. Chair_sentence_80

Padding will not shift the weight to different parts of the body (unless the chair is so soft that the shape is altered). Chair_sentence_81

However, padding does distribute the weight by increasing the area of contact between the chair and the body. Chair_sentence_82

A hard wood chair feels hard because the contact point between the occupant and the chair is small. Chair_sentence_83

The same body weight over a smaller area means greater pressure on that area. Chair_sentence_84

Spreading the area reduces the pressure at any given point. Chair_sentence_85

In lieu of padding, flexible materials, such as wicker, may be used instead with similar effects of distributing the weight. Chair_sentence_86

Since most of the body weight is supported in the back of the seat, padding there should be firmer than the front of the seat which only has the weight of the legs to support. Chair_sentence_87

Chairs that have padding that is the same density front and back will feel soft in the back area and hard to the underside of the knees. Chair_sentence_88

There may be cases where padding is not desirable, such as chairs that are intended primarily for outdoor use. Chair_sentence_89

Where padding is not desirable, contouring may be used instead. Chair_sentence_90

A contoured seat pan attempts to distribute weight without padding. Chair_sentence_91

By matching the shape of the occupant's buttocks, weight is distributed and maximum pressure is reduced. Chair_sentence_92

Actual chair dimensions are determined by measurements of the human body or anthropometric measurements. Chair_sentence_93

The two most relevant anthropometric measurement for chair design is the popliteal height and buttock popliteal length. Chair_sentence_94

For someone seated, the popliteal height is the distance from the underside of the foot to the underside of the thigh at the knees. Chair_sentence_95

It is sometimes called the "stool height". Chair_sentence_96

The term "sitting height" is reserved for the height to the top of the head when seated. Chair_sentence_97

For American men, the median popliteal height is 16.3 inches (410 mm) and for American women it is 15.0 inches (380 mm). Chair_sentence_98

The popliteal height, after adjusting for heels, clothing and other issues, is used to determine the height of the chair seat. Chair_sentence_99

Mass-produced chairs are typically 17 inches (430 mm) high. Chair_sentence_100

For someone seated, the buttock popliteal length is the horizontal distance from the back most part of the buttocks to the back of the lower leg. Chair_sentence_101

This anthropometric measurement is used to determine the seat depth. Chair_sentence_102

Mass-produced chairs are typically 15–17 inches (38–43 cm) deep. Chair_sentence_103

Additional anthropometric measurements may be relevant to designing a chair. Chair_sentence_104

Research has shown that the best seated posture is a reclined posture of 100°–110°. Chair_sentence_105

Hip breadth is used for chair width and armrest width. Chair_sentence_106

Elbow rest height is used to determine the height of the armrests. Chair_sentence_107

The buttock-knee length is used to determine "leg room" between rows of chairs. Chair_sentence_108

"Seat pitch" is the distance between rows of seats. Chair_sentence_109

In some airplanes and stadiums the leg room (the seat pitch less the thickness of the seat at thigh level) is so small that it is sometimes insufficient for the average person. Chair_sentence_110

For adjustable chairs, such as an office chair, the aforementioned principles are applied in adjusting the chair to the individual occupant. Chair_sentence_111

Caster wheels are attached to the feet of chairs to give more mobility. Chair_sentence_112

Gas springs are attached to the body of the chair in order to give height adjustment and more comfort to the user. Chair_sentence_113

Armrests Chair_section_4

Main article: Armrest Chair_sentence_114

A chair may or may not have armrests; chairs with armrests are termed "armchairs". Chair_sentence_115

In French, a distinction is made between fauteuil and chaise, the terms for chairs with and without armrests, respectively. Chair_sentence_116

In Germany, an armchair was once called a Krankensessel, or sick-chair, because it was intended for people who were too ill to stand or sit without extra support. Chair_sentence_117

If present, armrests will support part of the body weight through the arms if the arms are resting on the armrests. Chair_sentence_118

Armrests further have the function of making entry and exit from the chair easier (but from the side it becomes more difficult). Chair_sentence_119

Armrests should support the forearm and not the sensitive elbow area. Chair_sentence_120

Hence in some chair designs, the armrest is not continuous to the chair back, but is missing in the elbow area. Chair_sentence_121

Types of chairs Chair_section_5

A wide variety of chairs have emerged throughout the ages, some based on formal usages, and others based on domestic needs, and some based on needs within the workplace or various professions. Chair_sentence_122

Office chair Chair_section_6

Main article: Office chair Chair_sentence_123

An office chair is one used by employees within an office. Chair_sentence_124

Office chairs of the modern age almost invariably are wheeled, as this allows the user to have maximum ease and flexibility in moving around their workspace. Chair_sentence_125

Dining room chair Chair_section_7

A dining room chair is a specific type of design, used around a dining room table. Chair_sentence_126

it can be found in most ordinary residential homes, in the dining room. Chair_sentence_127

it also may appear in formal settings, such as any formal event or reception that includes a formal meal or banquet. Chair_sentence_128

Work chair Chair_section_8

A work chair is a specialized chair, adapted to the needs of a particular profession or setting. Chair_sentence_129

for example a designing chair will be used for designers who sit at high easels. Chair_sentence_130

it will usually have added height. Chair_sentence_131

Seats Chair_section_9

Chair seats vary widely in construction and may or may not match construction of the chair's back (backrest). Chair_sentence_132

Some systems include: Chair_sentence_133


  • Center seats where a solid material forms the chair seatChair_item_0_0
    • Solid wood, may or may not be shaped to human contoursChair_item_0_1
    • Wood slats, often seen on outdoor chairsChair_item_0_2
    • Padded leather, generally a flat wood base covered in padding and contained in soft leatherChair_item_0_3
    • Stuffed fabric, similar to padded leatherChair_item_0_4
    • Metal seats of solid or open designChair_item_0_5
    • Molded plasticChair_item_0_6
    • Stone, often marbleChair_item_0_7
  • Open center seats where a soft material is attached to the tops of chair legs or between stretchers to form the seatChair_item_0_8
    • Wicker, woven to provide a surface with give to itChair_item_0_9
    • Leather, may be tooled with a designChair_item_0_10
    • Fabric, simple covering without supportChair_item_0_11
    • Tape, wide fabric tape woven into seat, seen in lawn chairs and some old chairsChair_item_0_12
    • Caning,Chair_item_0_13
    • Rush, wrapped from rush, heavy paper, strong grasses, or hand twisted while wrapped with cattails to form the seat, usually in a pattern of four trapezoids meeting in the center, and on rare occasions, in elaborate patternsChair_item_0_14
    • Reed,Chair_item_0_15
    • RawhideChair_item_0_16
    • Splint, ash, oak or hickory strips are wovenChair_item_0_17
    • Metal, Metal mesh or wire woven to form seatChair_item_0_18

Standards and specifications Chair_section_10

Design considerations for chairs have been codified into standards. Chair_sentence_134

ISO 9241, "Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) – Part 5: Workstation layout and postural requirements", is the most common one for modern chair design. Chair_sentence_135

There are multiple specific standards for different types of chairs. Chair_sentence_136

Dental chairs are specified by ISO 6875. Chair_sentence_137

Bean bag chairs are specified by ANSI standard ASTM F1912-98. Chair_sentence_138

ISO 7174 specifies stability of rocking and tilting chairs. Chair_sentence_139

ASTM F1858-98 specifies plastic lawn chairs. Chair_sentence_140

ASTM E1822-02b defines the combustibility of chairs when they are stacked. Chair_sentence_141

The defines ANSI/BIFMA X5.1 (titled: General-Purpose Office Chairs – Tests) for testing of commercial-grade chairs. Chair_sentence_142

It specifies things like: Chair_sentence_143


  • chair back strength of 150 pounds (68 kg)Chair_item_1_19
  • chair stability if weight is transferred completely to the front or back legsChair_item_1_20
  • leg strength of 75 pounds (34 kg) applied one inch (25 mm) from the bottom of the legChair_item_1_21
  • seat strength of 225 pounds (102 kg) dropped from six inches (150 mm) above the seatChair_item_1_22
  • seat cycle strength of 100,000 repetitions of 125 pounds (57 kg) dropped from 2 inches (51 mm) above the seatChair_item_1_23

The specification further defines heavier "proof" loads that chairs must withstand. Chair_sentence_144

Under these higher loads, the chair may be damaged, but it must not fail catastrophically. Chair_sentence_145

Large institutions that make bulk purchases will reference these standards within their own even more detailed criteria for purchase. Chair_sentence_146

Governments will often issue standards for purchases by government agencies (e.g. Canada's Canadian General Standards Board CAN/CGSB 44.15M on "Straight Stacking Chair, Steel" or CAN/CGSB 44.232-2002 on "Task Chairs for Office Work with Visual Display Terminal"). Chair_sentence_147

Chairs may be rated by the length of time that they may be used comfortably – an 8-hour chair, a 24-hour chair, and so on. Chair_sentence_148

Such chairs are specified for tasks which require extended periods of sitting, such as for receptionists or supervisors of a control panel. Chair_sentence_149

Accessories Chair_section_11

In place of a built-in footrest, some chairs come with a matching ottoman. Chair_sentence_150

An ottoman is a short stool that is intended to be used as a footrest but can sometimes be used as a stool. Chair_sentence_151

If matched to a glider chair, the ottoman may be mounted on swing arms so that the ottoman rocks back and forth with the main glider. Chair_sentence_152

A chair cover is a temporary fabric cover for a side chair. Chair_sentence_153

They are typically rented for formal events such as wedding receptions to increase the attractiveness of the chairs and decor. Chair_sentence_154

The chair covers may come with decorative chair ties, a ribbon to be tied as a bow behind the chair. Chair_sentence_155

Covers for sofas and couches are also available for homes with small children and pets. Chair_sentence_156

In the second half of the 20th century, some people used custom clear plastic covers for expensive sofas and chairs to protect them. Chair_sentence_157

Chair pads are cushions for chairs. Chair_sentence_158

They contain cotton or foam for padding. Chair_sentence_159

Some are decorative. Chair_sentence_160

In cars, they may be used to increase the height of the driver. Chair_sentence_161

Orthopedic backrests provide support for the back. Chair_sentence_162

Car seats sometimes have built-in and adjustable lumbar supports. Chair_sentence_163

These can also be used on kitchen chairs. Chair_sentence_164

Chair mats are mats meant to cover different types of flooring. Chair_sentence_165

They are usually made from plastic. Chair_sentence_166

This allows chairs on wheels to roll easily over the carpet and protects the carpet or floor. Chair_sentence_167

They come in various shapes, some specifically sized to fit partially under a desk. Chair_sentence_168

Remote control bags can be draped over the arm of easy chairs or sofas and used to hold remote controls for home cinemas. Chair_sentence_169

They are counter-weighted so as to not slide off the arms under the weight of the remote controls. Chair_sentence_170

Chair glides are attached to the feet of chairs to prevent them from scratching or snagging on the floor. Chair_sentence_171

An antimacassar is a cloth covering for a headrest to protect the fabric and enable easy washing. Chair_sentence_172

As sculptural and art forms Chair_section_12

The Broken Chair is a monumental sculpture in wood, constructed of 5.5 tons of wood, 12 metres (39 ft) high standing across the street from the Palace of Nations in Geneva. Chair_sentence_173

It has broken leg symbolizing opposition to land mines and cluster bombs. Chair_sentence_174

In 2001, Steve Mann exhibited a chair sculpture at San Francisco Art Institute. Chair_sentence_175

The chair had spikes that retracted when a credit card was inserted to download a seating license. Chair_sentence_176

Later other museums and galleries were equipped with the "Pay to Sit" chair, with a global central seating license server located in Toronto. Chair_sentence_177

The first sitting session was free, with a database of persons who had already used their free session. Chair_sentence_178

In a performance piece at the 2012 Republican Political Convention, Clint Eastwood addressed an empty chair, as if it represented President Barack Obama (meant to be construed as MIA or ineffectual). Chair_sentence_179

The address was controversial, whether it was poignant or bizarre. Chair_sentence_180

Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has created several chairs as art forms such as "Honey-pop": honey-comb paper chair (2001), "Pane chair": natural fiber chair (2006), "Venus": natural crystal chair (2007). Chair_sentence_181

New York industrial designer Ian Stell creates steel and wood kinetic sculptures that transform into chairs, including Roll Bottom Chair (2016) that turns into a secretariat desk and Loop that transforms into two interlocking chairs when expanded (2015). Chair_sentence_182

In language Chair_section_13


  • If someone "nearly fell off their chair" after being informed about something, it was because they were very shocked or surprised.Chair_item_2_24
  • An orchestra awards the best player in a particular section a "chair" or "principal seat" based on ability. The first chair of the section plays the solos, and in string sections, determines the bowings. In professional orchestras, the first chair player receives higher pay. It is also common for this position to be known as "first stand", a reference to the portable lectern on which the musicians put their sheet music. However, the person who is first chair in the first violin section is usually referred to as the concertmaster in the US or leader in the UK.Chair_item_2_25
  • In academia, an endowed chair is a prestigious appointment for a professor, paid for by a dedicated funding source.Chair_item_2_26
  • A chair is the highest officer of an organized group, such as the chair of the board, the head of the Board of Directors in a company or non-profit organization.Chair_item_2_27
  • "Musical chairs" is a common party game, and a colloquial expression to describe people shuffling from seat to seat, around different locations, or from one job title to another.Chair_item_2_28
  • In American slang, to say someone will "get the chair" is to say that they will be executed by an electric chair. Alternatively, it can be a metaphor for other harsh punishment.Chair_item_2_29

See also Chair_section_14


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