You may have seen them around: upholstered chairs with comfortable seats, no armrests and small legs. They’re called slipper chairs. You can easily identify one by how close to the ground it seats and also the upholstered seat and backrest. The name may sound a bit funny today and no longer describes the purpose for which the chairs are used but in fact its significance is very clear and simple.
The slipper chair first appeared in the early 18th century. Back then it was always found in bedroom and used by women as they sat down to let the maids put on their slippers. This is why slipper chairs have such short legs and also why they look so feminine. With time they became more and more versatile. In the 1950s they made their way into the living room where they accompanied the sofa.
It was also in the 1950s that slipper chairs started to feature box pleats or skirts at the bottom which had the role to hide the short legs. The style is still present today and slipper chairs are still sometimes used in bedrooms but also in a variety of other spaces including living rooms, lounge areas and small spaces in general. Their short legs mean that the whole chair is short and that it can be placed in front of a window without obstructing the view too much. This is a nice advantage that’s worth taking into consideration when decorating a room.
The small dimensions of the slipper chair and the fact that it has soft and comfortable upholstery on its seat and backrest also make it a good fit for children’s bedrooms and playrooms. It’s also great as an accent seat in areas like the kitchen, the corner of a bedroom or even an office. Pair it with a side table or a small coffee table and use it to add a chic and feminine touch to the room.
The Ariel slipper chair is a beautiful and modern interpretation of the classic design. Created by Edward Van Vliet in 2016, the chair features four dark-stained wooden legs, a rounded seat and a backrest that curves around the sides and comes in two height options. Cushions with floral patterns emphasize the chic and feminine allure of the chair.
In 2015 Sebastian Herkner designed the Pipe chair. Its frame has an interesting structure. It’s made of metal and it links the front legs, a rounded pipe that goes around the front and sides and the back legs which continue upward and form two loops which holds the back cushion. Both the seat and the backrest are robust, soft and comfortable and the chair stays simple and looks modern by avoiding being slender and by embracing its curves.
The inspiration for the Ottoman chair designed by Scholten & Baijings came from the futons usually found in Japanese homes. The designers wanted to create a versatile chair which would allow freedom of movement and comfort in a compact form. The low seat follows the design of the slipper chair.
When it was first designed in 1963 by J. Wegner, the Shell Chair was received with reluctance by the public because of its avant-garden design and unusually simple and sculptural form and bold look. In 1998 the same chair was reintroduced and that’s when it really had a big impact. Everyone loved it and the design was here to stay.
A perfectly round seat gives the Ripple chair a striking and easily-recognizable look. The round seat is complemented by a backrest which sits at some distance from it and curves around the sides. In addition, the legs are also rounded, emphasizing the smooth and soft nature of the whole design.
This is Chair 01 H from Very Wood. It looks like a miniature version of a regular chair and it’s perfect for small living room. Pair it with a tiny side table and use it as an accent chair in room corners, in front of a window with a nice view or in the bedroom, where a slipper chair was originally intended to be placed.
The Path is another modern version of the slipper chair. It lacks the armrests and has a low seat. Its design is versatile enough to allow it to be used in a variety of different settings and decors. The overlapping lines and the choice of shapes and finishes give the chair a balanced look that’s just quirky enough to fit in a contemporary home without looking boring.
Some products like the Attesa lounge chair are influenced by slipper chairs without actually being one. As you can see, this lounge chair has a low base but its seat and backrest cushions are unified into a single element and the frame also includes what appears to be a pair of armrests.
The Lab XL chair comes in two heights, both versions being defined by a very casual look and laid-back nature. The seat and back cushions are pillow-shaped and they rest casually on a wooden frame at comfortable angles.
The success of the experiments done by Charles and Ray Eames with plywood inspired a lot of others to use the same technique to create stylish and timeless furniture pieces. The DCM chairs are a great example. They have curved seats and backrests made of ash wood and slender bases made of tubular steel and the fact that their legs are shorter than usual emphasizes the similarity between them and the slipper chair.
This is the Halo chair, a stylish piece designed by Michael Sodeau. It’s the first colored carbon fiber chair and it’s produced in a limited edition. The chair is lightweight yet strong and its design is both unusual and versatile.
This is a new version of the Kuki chair designed by Zaha Hadid. The original version was made from a round a piece of plastic and this one is made of carbon fibre. It’s molded using a single sheet of Hypetex, a composite material originally developed for cars by Formula One engineers.
The old slipper chair inspired quite a few designs and today a lot of pieces are more or less linked to the original characteristics of the chair. For example, some of the chairs from the Blackcork collection are versatile and low enough to be compared to slipper chairs. The company specializes in unique designs that are the results of the transformation of expanded black cork.
Perfect as an accent chair, the Orlando has a design that makes it suitable for both modern and traditional or retro decors. It looks lightweight and simple but there’s more to it than that. The charm is in the details, the way the curved back intersects with the oval seat and the contrast between the upholstery and the tapered legs.
Even if you’re not a big fan of modern or contemporary furniture designs you can still find some great slipper chairs updated to suit the current styles without being too striking about it. We’re talking about pieces such as the Miller chair which is simple, graceful and timeless.
Instead of the usual backrest, the Roll club chair features two cylindrical cushions tied together with straps in a contrasting color. The seat cushion matches the backrest and features a rounded form supported by an elegant wooden frame. This is an interesting adaptation of the slipper chair concept.
The Ren chair has no armrests and was designed to be used together with its matching sofa. Together they create comfortable and elegant lounge spaces and they make living rooms look stylish and airy. The chair is neither robust nor lightweight but looks slender enough to not overwhelm a room with its presence.