A Short But Fascinating History Of The Humble Bow Chair

bow chairAs we have a whole host of exciting new arrivals on our Cafe Furniture Melbourne site, I’m going to focus on one in particular –  the Bow Chair. It has its origins rooted in the early part of the nineteenth century and has had quite a fascinating history so without further ado, let’s take a closer look.

Originally the Bow Chair started off life with the non-PC name of the ‘Smoker’s Bow Chair’ where originally, it wasn’t designed for grandeur like many chairs of the time, but instead was designed for practicality and comfort.

The original Smoker’s Bow Chair was a simple chunkier version of the Windsor Chair which first appeared in the 1820’s. Although it lacked the high back found on any Windsor Chair of the time, it maintained a heavier, sturdier appearance. The main feature was a hoop or bow which was fashioned from steamed wood. This was then curved to make both the back support and arms. The chair also consisted of a wide seat, supported by 4 splayed, spindle legs. In its original form it was found in many country kitchens of the day as well as in many inns and public houses throughout the UK. So why call it the Smoker’s Bow Chair?

Because the sweeping armrests were the perfect height to support the arm when smoking a pipe.

Going upmarket

By the 1850’s, upmarket versions of the Bow Chair were being produced using materials like oak, mahogany, or walnut rather than cheap country woods. Instead of a plain wood seating and back it now became reinforced with horsehair for added comfort and then covered with leather or velvet for that sumptuous, luxurious feel.

As well as being seen in many Victorian drawing rooms of the day, this gentrified version of the Smokers Bow Chair also started to make an appearance in the many Gentleman’s clubs located in and around the city of London. Here the industrialists and high-rollers of the time would sit back and talk business while partaking in a Cuban cigar and a glass of fine brandy or whisky.

Into the 21st Century

While it’s not particularly PC or cool these days to use the word ‘smoking‘ in relation to a chair, the fact of the matter remains that the Bow Chair is both extremely practical and incredibly comfortable. It comes as no surprise therefore that modern versions of the Bow Chair can now be found in homes and commercial premises across the world.

At Cafe Furniture Melbourne our Bow Chairs are fashioned from light ash and vinyl to give a modern, fresh, but equally sumptuous feel, so why not log on and take a closer look.

Alternatively if you’re in the Campbellfield area of Melbourne, then you can always pop along to our showroom where you can see a variety of commercial-grade cafe chairs first hand. In addition if you’d like any more information about the Bow Chair or any other cafe chairs in our collection then contact our experienced team on 03 9357 9688 who will be more than happy to assist.

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