Friday, January 06, 2012

Know When to Fold 'Em

The first time a folding chair made a big impression on me was when I was a young student at the Atlanta Ballet. I remember that my rather stern ballet mistress, Miss Joanne, used to conduct class while sitting in a folding director's chair. I can't recall if the canvas back was emblazoned with her name, but considering the fact that the Atlanta Ballet was a serious ballet school, I'm assuming that it didn't. Truth be told, I have never thought that those oak directors chairs were much to look at, although I do understand the practicality of them. And for a while there, back in the 1970s and early 80s, canvas and wood directors chairs were used in quite a few homes.

While I was reading the 30th anniversary edition of World of Interiors, I was struck by the photo, above, of the tented room at Charlottenhof. Believe it or not, it wasn't so much the tented walls and ceiling that caught my attention, but rather the folding wood and metal campaign chairs that were covered in that jaunty striped canvas. It reminded me, in a way, of Miss Joanne's chair, although I find the example at Charlottenhof much more appealing.

I've rounded up some photos of metal folding chairs. Some appear to be campaign pieces, while others are slick metal versions of the modern director's chair. And the beauty of these chairs is that not only do they look great, they can also be folded up and stored away when not in use. If you live in a small space, these chairs can really be a godsend. That said, some of these chairs are so stylish, you might not want to stow them away.

Here, a folding metal chair finished with black leather was used as a desk chair. Interior by Charles Dear, c. late 1960s.

These dining chairs may not have actually been folding, but they have the look of old campaign chairs. In the Paris apartment of Mme Goldsmith, early 1960s.

A sleek take on the director's chair. The chrome and black leather chairs were used in a dining room, while a white leather version was used at a card table.

I couldn't resist showing this photo of the late Audrey Hepburn's director's chair in the home of Hubert de Givenchy.

Photo at top: World of Interiors, Dec 2011, Fritz von der Schulenburg photographer. Photo #3 from Nouvelles Reussites de La Decoration Francaise 1960-1966; Photos #2, #4, and #5 from House and Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration.


  1. To see a folding chair by design great Eva Zeisel check out my blog on January 5! Designed in the 1940's it looks so modern. It is even this year's Pantone color, tangerine!
    Lynn from Decor Arts Now

  2. I love the skirt of the Charlottenhof models. Maguire made a great model of wood carved to resemble bamboo with slings of leather; they are sometimes offered at a high price on 1st Dibs.

  3. Classicist, I'll keep my eyes peeled for the Maguire model. Sounds fabulous!

  4. These are great chairs--but I also love the bone and mother-of-pearl inlaid Moroccan and Syrian examples. And, of course, there is the iconic Jansen campaign chair. Super post. Thanks. Mary

  5. What a cute post dahhling!

  6. As one who loves chairs and entertaining I have always had a stash of folding chairs nearby.

    And, yes, in the seventies, a pair of yellow canvas chairs were part of the decor in the small sitting room of my newlywed apartment.

    Thanks for the memories!!


  7. I loved this, at the various barns we've "lived" at I've seen some beautiful wood ones with leather seating and been very tempted to bring them inside!