The Piedmont Chair

Woven chair seat in an Italian kitchen

In a sleepy little village out in the Italian countryside is a house that just a few short months ago acquired a new owner from Sweden. And, by happy coincidence, the house already had a façade painted in yellow and blue. Flag blue, no less – the same shade of blue as that on the flags of Sweden and Ukraine.

Among some of the items of furniture the previous owner left in the house were these four handy and well cared for little chairs. They can now calm their nerves and take a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that they will be keeping the same address as before, here in glorious Piedmont.

According to their new owner, they are fashioned in beechwood, and the seats, as far as I can tell, appear to be woven in paper cord. This means that, with a little practice, you can make your own new seats when the old ones need repairing. At least, that’s what the handicraft consultants reassure us.

As for materials, well most often you take whatever is most readily at hand – elm bast, straw, sea grass or something similar. This type of chair is not expensive to buy, but if you have four of them the price rises quite steeply. One day, of course, as long as they are given a friendly word of encouragement now and again and, provided no one ill-advisedly tries to use them as rocking chairs, these chairs will become antiques in their own right.

If you look at the chair in profile, you will detect a hint of Empire style in the subtle curve of the rear legs and a little kink in the backrest just above the seat, which gives the chair that extra little extra.

Woven seats have been around for centuries. They were a common feature on what are known as ladderback chairs, so called because of the multiple wooden slats or spindles incorporated into their backrest, a construction that can trace its origins back to the Middle Ages.

One such chair, dating from the 1700s, can be seen at Gripsholm Castle in Sweden.

By Gun Bjerkander Handberg

Note From Editor:

Vind & Våg Publishing House will soon be going to print with our latest book by author Gun Bjerkander Handberg. This publication will be launched at the beginning of December and is a very special collection of some of our favourite blog posts. The book ‘Historic Chairs A Blog Anthology’ will share thirty seven chair tales with both the original Swedish text and the English translation. The book will be available to order online and in bookshops and we will share links to the publication in November.

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