Director’s Chair: The Story Behind Hollywood’s Favorite Seat

Step onto a film set—or someone’s front porch—and you’re likely to see one: that workaday collapsible, wood-framed perch we all call the director’s chair, with its signature scissor-kick legs and removable canvas seat and back.

CB2 director’s chairs pull up to a games table in Lulu de Kwiatkowski’s Bahamian home.

Photo: Pernille Loof.

This no-frills folding form hearkens back to ancient Egyptian stools and the classic Roman curule, reserved for dignitaries, but its modern origin story starts with what came to be known as Gold Medal Camp Furniture, a Wisconsin-based company that introduced the design in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair. “It was part of a larger inventory that had to do with camping, related to the back-to-nature movement of the 19th century,” explains Emily Orr, associate curator at then Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. “Steadily, it moved into domestic settings—backyards, patios, even parlors.”

Image may contain Indoors Interior Design Wood Floor Flooring Hardwood Chair Furniture Plywood Desk and Table

The solarium at The Sea Ranch Lodge in California, revamped by AD100 designer Charles de Lisle.

Photo: Sam Frost

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