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16 designer dining chairs to transform your table

We think these timeless chairs are the best seats in the house

dining chairs

If we talked about furniture in the same terms as fashion, the ‘cost-per-wear’ of most dining chairs would be rapidly approaching zero. Some of the most hard-working pieces you’ll ever buy, their purchase surely deserves more than a cursory scroll. We’ve whittled down our list of favourite designs to the sixteen below, which includes everything from small-scale British makers to the Danish designers taking up the mantle for Hans J Wegner (yes, that chair is here too). Forget the set of six, we say – one beloved chair works brilliantly at the head of a table.

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1 ‘Butterfly’ chair, L. Ercolani
dining chairs

When British furniture maker Ercol launched sister brand ‘L.Ercolani’ last year, it was as a home for some of its most enduring designs. That includes founder Lucian Ercolani’s ‘Butterly’ chair, with its elegant curved profile. From £650, heals.com

2 ‘Afteroom’ dining chair, Menu
dining chair

The ethos behind Danish brand Menu? ‘We want to make the world better, less complicated, a little bit nicer to wake up to.’ We think the minimalist ‘Afteroom’ chair, designed by the Stockholm-based studio of the same name, is one of the best ways to buy into the idea. £520, scp.co.uk

3 ‘Laakso’ dining chair, Made by Choice
dining chairs
Made by Choice

Made from solid ash, the curved back of this simple chair by Finnish designer Saku Sysiö provided the inspiration for its name – ‘Laakso’ means valley. It’s also the Helsinki district where the piece was designed. £733.32, finnishdesignshop.com

4 ‘Cesca’ chair by Marcel Breuer, Knoll
dining chairs

Named as one of our most wanted designs of 2021, Marcel Breuer’s cantilevered ‘Cesca’ chair remains one of his best known works, almost 100 years after its design. If vintage options prove hard to track down, reissues are available from Knoll – this black chrome option is exclusive to The Conran Shop. £1,098, conranshop.co.uk

5 'Panton' chair by Verner Panton
dining chairs

Any design lover will immediately clock the ‘S’ silhouette of this twentieth-century icon, which changed the course of furniture forever. Designed in 1959, it was the first chair to be made out of a single piece of plastic. Happily, it’s still in production and surprisingly affordable. £285, vitra.com

6 ‘Canteen’ dining chairs, Very Good and Proper
dining chairs
Very Good and Proper

The work of duo Klauser and Carpenter, this lightweight, stackable chair has been designed with practicality in mind, lending it an appealingly utilitarian feel. Its frame can be customised in a wide range of colourful or classic options. £252, twentytwentyone.com

7 ‘Hardy’ chair by David Irwin for Another Country
dining chairs
Another Country

With its generous proportions and spindle back, this steam bent chair by the Newcastle-based designer is an heirloom in the making. Its name is a nod to the novelist Thomas Hardy, whose poem Old Furniture is an ode to the emotional connections we forge with well-loved pieces. £795, anothercountry.com

8 ‘Tea’ chair by Jasper Morrison for Molteni & C
dining chairs
Molteni & C

Compact and understated, Molteni & C’s ‘Tea’ chair is crafted from solid wood and can be upholstered in a dizzying array of the Italian brand’s fabrics and leathers. It’s but one in a growing collection of chairs by prolific product designer Jasper Morrison. Approx £1,250, molteni.it

9 ‘CH24 Wishbone’ chair by Hans J Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn
dining chairs
Carl Hansen & Søn

The very first chair that Danish designer Hans J Wegner designed for Carl Hansen & Søn has proved to be his best known work – and one of the most famous chairs of all time. Paired with a hand-woven paper cord seat, its frame is available in an ever-increasing range of colours. From £480, aram.co.uk

10 ‘Hewn’ chair, Sebastian Cox
dining chairs
Sebastian Cox

With an ash seat and coppiced hazel legs, gently tapered at the foot, ‘Hewn’ puts the making process front and centre. It’s typical of the light touch of British maker Sebastian Cox, who has emerged as a leading voice in the world of sustainable, thoughtful furniture design. £720, sebastiancox.co.uk

11 ‘Beetle’ chair by GamFratesi for Gubi
dining chairs

It’s hard to believe the ‘Beetle’ chair is less than ten years old, such is its well-earned status. Created by Danish-Italian design duo Gam Fratesi, its simple shell is available in endless colours and finishes, including cosy bouclés and chenilles launched last year as part of its ‘A Quartet of Expressions’ collection. From £837, chaplins.co.uk

12 ‘Case 675’ chair by Robin Day
dining chairs
John Lewis & Partners

A revelation in moulded plywood, the ‘675’ represents the dogged determination of mid-century British designer Robin Day, who eventually succeeded in his quest to create a chair with a back panel that bent to create armrests. With its leather seat and elegant frame, it looks as contemporary today as it did in 1952. £360, johnlewis.com

13 ‘TK1 Betty’ dining chair, &Tradition
dining chairs

This playful design by Finnish-Danish duo Sami Kallio and Jakob Thau makes a feature of a part of a chair usually hidden away under the seat. Not only is the linen webbing an integral part of its aesthetic, but a particularly supportive way to sit. £425, nest.co.uk

14 ‘AAC’ chair, Hay
dining chairs

Hay has a whole family of ‘AAC’ chairs – they’re neatly categorised by number – and we love the addition of graphic armrests for ‘19’. Choose the chromed steel for an industrial edge. £449, hay.dk

15 ‘669 Superleggera’ chair by Gio Ponti for Cassina
dining chairs

As the legend goes, Italian design titan Gio Ponti threw a prototype of this chair from a four-storey building to test its toughness. The prototype survived, and thus so did the lightweight ‘Superleggera’, which he went on to release with Cassina. £1,609, viaduct.co.uk

16 ‘Chair 66’, Artek

Don’t be misled by the name – this classic birch wood chair was created by Alvar Aalto in 1935. Its quietly pioneering ‘L-leg’ design, which utilises a 90-degree bend to fasten them directly to the underside of the seat, is the key to its streamlined form. £355, utilitydesign.co.uk

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