The Chiavari Chair is a classic, elegant and timeless chair that has graced the world for over 200 years. Although feminine, graceful and delicate in appearance, these chairs are strong and sturdy. Utility paired with elegance. The perfect chair for an elegant affair, indoors or outdoors. The compilation above includes original Chiavari chairs and the evolution to the most common derivative that we see today in the stacking rental chair, referred to as the “Tiffany Chair”. It is no wonder that this chair has evolved into what has become known to as the classic wedding chair. I have always been enamored by this chair. Once again, it is the history and understanding that deepens my appreciation. History unites to position this remarkable chair on its own pedestal, which it certainly deserves….
The Chiavari chair is named after the coastal Italian town of Chiavari (pronounced shi-VAR-ee), from which this stunning chair originated. Chiavari is within the Province of Genoa, in the region of Liguria. Situated near the Entella River it is surrounded by mountains except on the southwest, where it meets the Mediterranean Sea. A beautiful setting from which to visualize this chair’s history. Since the year 1200, Chiavari, Italy, was known for the production of elaborately hand carved furniture. Quite the history.
In 1807, local cabinet maker and renowned craftsman Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi (also referred to as Campanino) modeled his infamous design after several Parisian chairs were brought to him by Marquis Stefano Rivarola, Ambassador of the Republic of Genoa, founder of the Economic Society of Chiavari. (Of note, the Descalzi brothers had opened their famous furniture workshop in 1795). After returning from a recent trip to Paris, Rivarola brought back several chairs for the craftsmen of Chiavari to create quality replicas. It is said that the French design had only one crossbar on the backrest and no spindles. It was the goal of Descalzi to create a unique chair that was lightweight, utilitarian, yet possibly first and foremost, elegant. Descazi evaluated the chairs and then redesigned them, making changes to the shape of the backrest, the legs and improvements to the seat. Descalzi christened his creation “Chiavarina, or little Chiavari”. It is believed that the design was based on the Louis XV panel-back side chair, but without the upholstery. Additionally, the Chiavari chair is noted as a type of “Balloon-Backed” chair and it is also thought that the creation of this chair began with the “Bell Ringer” design (Descalzi was nicknamed “Bell Ringer”, apparently in connection with his parent’s occupation as bell ringers). Who knew?
Descalzi, indeed, succeeded in designing a chair that not only incorporated the Neo-Classical look of the period, but a chair that was practical and of quality. An elegant and sturdy design created by a visionary! The flawless design of the Chiavari chairs are easily recognizable with their spindle frame construction and ladder-like back paired with short, vertical spindles on the upper backrest. The distinctive double row of spindles at the chairs legs add to the elegance and appeal of this chair. Of note, today there is one factory in Chiavari, Italy, the Fratelli Levaggi chair factory that have been replicating these chairs by hand for 50 years (www.levaggisedie.it). Interestingly, the factory is in the same location where the Chiavari chair was originally formed. The beauty of quality, lasting craftsmanship continuing onward to today- offering the future a timeless and enduring design made by skilled hands. The power of craftsmanship!
The Chiavari chair has certainly inspired countless versions over the years. It quickly made the transition from the dining room the great halls of grand ballrooms. Since the beginning, it has been a basic at royal functions and has included many infamous individuals who have perched from this historic chair such as Queen Victoria, Napoleon and King Fernando of Spain. What a history!
Chiavari chairs have now become a staple at elegant social occasions and stylish soiree’s all over the world. Although there are many versions, the resemblances to the original are evident. The design of this beautiful chair has certainly set the standard as the premier chair for elegant banquets and weddings. These slim chairs provide spacious seating at tables, an asset for any event. The ways to adorn these chairs are countless. The options available in finishes are also countless. Today the Chiavari chair can be found in several colors and materials including lightweight acrylic, bamboo, brass, steel, aluminum, resin and of course, beech wood. Stained in mahogany or walnut, metallic finishes of silver and gold, painted finishes in a multitude of solid or even bright colors, the options that this chair provides can certainly match a design palate of any stylish event. Whether the warmth of the gold or the cool modern appeal of the silver, this chair is sure to add to the attractiveness of a stellar affair.
From the beginning of the 19th century to today, the pairing of the sleek, yet delicate lines and graceful design matched with the strength of the material equates a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Whether this chair is used at an elegant affair or found within the interior of a home, its simplicity and lightness adds an aura of classic elegance, indeed. Consider the Chiavari chair as sculpture within an interior. If you are fortunate to have acquired an original Chaivari chair, a prized asset it is sure to be. Fortunately, there is a a Chiavari styled chair in affordable price ranges for every interior. A significant, incomparable chair.
A perfect detail, indeed.