The Italian word for chair is sedia, which comes from the ancient sieda (to sit). There are many different dialects in Italy, and the word sedia changes to match each area’s specific language. For example, in Tuscany, you will hear the word seggiolino or seggiolone instead of sedia.
A chair is a seat with back for one person. It is one of the oldest forms of furniture, dating back to the 3rd Dynasty of ancient Egypt (2650-c. 2575 bce). In antiquity, there were many kinds of chairs: some had arms and others did not. Some had a thronelike appearance and were reserved for members of the royal family or other important persons.
During the Renaissance, chairs became more commonplace in homes. There were two principal types of chairs: those that were light enough to be moved easily and those that were heavy, thronelike seats used by the head of the household or other important people. In the latter case, a sgabello was typically carved with a family’s imprese or emblem drawn from its coat of arms and had either two decorated boards for support or three separate ornamented and carved impost legs.
Modern designers have taken inspiration from old-fashioned chairs to create new ones. The s-shaped frame of Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair is both elegant and functional, and its use of tubular steel makes it light and comfortable. The Louis XVI armchair designed by Gio Ponti is another classic, and the Cesca chair designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell is modern and minimalist.
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