Who invented the First Chair? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Chances are, you’re probably sitting on a chair while reading this. Do you ever wonder where the chair came from? Was there even a time when chairs didn’t exist? It seems so silly to think about since chairs have been such an integral part of society that it’s probably existed since the dawn of time.

Of course, everything we use today has a point of origin. The fascinating thing is that every invention started somewhere and evolved into what we know today. Interested in seeing how the chair evolved from its humble beginnings? Let’s have a look, shall we?

Who invented the first chair?

A surprising number of inventions started in ancient Egypt, and the chair is no exception. The funny thing is that chairs had a tendency to be quite exquisite in Egypt, with many looking like they were meant for royalty.

The first chair’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Egyptians
    The most innovative civilization

    So many inventions got their start in ancient Egypt that the first chair isn’t such a surprise. The interesting thing is that the chairs had a tendency to be extravagant.

  • Mesopotamians
    The earliest monuments of Nineveh

    The ancient chairs of Iraq had no back support, but the legs were surprisingly well crafted, often ending in animal hooves.

  • The Greco-Roman world
    Made frequent use of various chairs

    The Greco-Roman world was home to many different designs. One of the more interesting ones was the curule chair, which was the ancient equivalent of the folding chair.

  • Chinese
    Designs from ancient China

    The ancient Chinese were well-known for using both tables and chairs, though the former was more prevalent.

  • Renaissance
    The evolution of chairs

    The chair used to be a mark of high office, but it was around the renaissance era when chairs were finally adopted as a more common companion for those who could afford them.

When was the first chair invented?

The very first chair was invented in Egypt around 2750 BC. While there might eventually be proof of earlier recordings, the ancient Egyptians still hold the distinction of inventing the chair.

A brief history of the chair

Back in the old days, chairs meant a mark of royalty or high office. In ancient Egypt, chairs were surprisingly extravagant, with beautiful designs. It showed that the higher classes likely used chairs. Compared to the table, which was usually just an elevated platform, chairs had more depth and personality than you might expect. The Mesopotamians had similarly beautiful designs, though they often involved animals’ hooves at the end of the chair’s legs.

In the Greco-Roman world, the use of chairs was a little more common, with plenty of designs depending on the situation. That said, the chair was still typically associated with high office. The trend continued with the Chinese, where the use of chairs and tables was prevalent. The chair, however, does have a bit more of an interesting history in China, with some scholars still arguing about its actual intended use during the time.

It wasn’t until the renaissance that the use of chairs became much more commonplace, and it was no longer the symbol of high office or authority. At this point, chairs were available to anyone who could afford them. But, of course, the price depended on the design and the upholstery available. During the renaissance, chairs were remarkably sturdy, and leather was the most commonly used material in upholstery.

It’s safe to say the design of chairs hadn’t changed much when comparing its ancient counterparts to the ones we know today. Likewise, the chairs from ancient Egypt didn’t look much different, showing just how timeless the chair’s design truly is.

The chair timeline

  1. 2700 BC
    Chairs of the Egyptians

    The chairs of the ancient Egyptians were surprisingly fancy, especially considering the tables were much more primitive. It shows that the chairs were likely used by the upper classes.

  2. 700 BC
    Chairs of Nineveh

    The ancient chairs of Iraq had no back support, but the legs were surprisingly well crafted, often ending in animal hooves.

  3. 600 BC
    Chairs of the Greco-Roman world

    The Greco-Roman world was home to many different designs. One of the more interesting ones was the curule chair, which was the ancient equivalent of the folding chair.

  4. 650 AD
    Chairs of the Chinese

    The table saw much more use than the chairs in ancient China, though the chairs were often a symbol of power. Chinese chairs had a lavish design, as they were often seen as a symbol of high office.

  5. 1300s
    Chairs of the Renaissance

    The renaissance period was when the concept of chairs exploded, making them much more commonplace compared to how it was before. Anyone who could afford a chair could own one without any issues, and the chairs of that period were known for being quite extravagant.

Where was the first chair invented?

The first chair was invented in ancient Egypt.

The importance of the chair

  • What are you sitting on as you read this?

    While you might be lying down while scrolling through this little deep dive, chances are you’re sitting on a chair. It’s not easy to imagine what life would be without a chair, as it’s just a natural part of our society at this point.

  • A timeless design

    When you look at pictures of the very first chairs, it might come as a surprise how much they resemble the modern chair. Even the Greeks had the curule, which is similar to the folding chairs of today.

  • Advancing to ergonomic models

    The great thing about today’s medical studies is they could potentially push chairs in a healthier direction thanks to ergonomic designs. So while it’s not a good idea to spend all day sitting on a chair, ergonomic designs can help you transition to a healthier lifestyle.

  • Accomplishing more with less

    The chair is one example of a simple invention that became invaluable at the time of its inception. The fact that the design hasn’t changed shows how much of an impact chairs have made.

Chairs by the numbers

  • 1877The earliest known reference to the game musical chairs was in 1877.
  • 900,000,000An estimated 900,000,000 tons of office furniture end up in dumps around the country every year.
  • 1889The year that Thomas Edison invented the electric chair. It’s a bit dark, but it’s still a part of the chair’s history!
  • 2009The year that the Office Chair Racing Championships were held. People always seem to find something fun and new despite the timeless design — even for chairs.

Five facts about the chair

  • Lack of mention in the Bible

    It’s strange how something as timeless as the chair has no mention in the Bible. It tends to be quite unlikely for any written work not to have any mention of chairs. Considering the Bible’s overall page count and subject matter, it’s even more unlikely!

  • The origins of the cathedral

    The term cathedra in Latin is a combination of words meaning sit and down. The word chair is derived from it, and the term cathedral came to exist as it was seen as the seat of the bishops and pope.

  • The beginnings of the ergonomic boom

    Ergonomic designs are all the rage these days, though they only started picking up steam around the 1970s.

  • The power of the wheelchair market

    Never underestimate the value of a wheelchair! The wheelchair industry earns about $7 billion a year. So even something seen as a spinoff of the chair is making big bucks.

  • The watchman’s chair

    One interesting little tidbit involves the watchman’s chair, which was a seat made to be uncomfortable. It’s the kind of seat built so that if you fall asleep on it, you will slide right off.

FAQ about the chair

  • What’s the most expensive chair ever made?

    “Fauteuil aux Dragons” is currently known as the most expensive chair ever made. It was sold for a whopping $28 million and was designed by Eileen Gray.

  • What are the origins of the swivel chair?

    The origin of the swivel chair is quite an interesting tale, as it was said to be designed by Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson was said to have penned the Declaration of Independence on his swivel chair. There are many more different cool origin stories such as this one, like Charles Darwin adding wheels under his chair so he could move around his office without any issues.

  • Is sitting on a chair for too long bad for my health?

    In fairness, doing anything for too long can be detrimental to your health, including lying down. Sitting on a chair can have some harmful effects when you do it for too long, but that’s why ergonomic designs are flooding the market!

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