Windsor Chair Redux

“Congress Voting the Declaration of Independence”, etching by Edward Savage

The silhouette of a Windsor chair is unmistakable – an array of thin spindles set into a wood seat, interrupted by a sweeping back rail and voluptuously turned, angled legs. Steeped in a 300-year old history, their origins hail from England, where they were originally painted green and intended for use as garden furniture.  Their introduction into the American Colonies instigated design modifications, both intentionally, in order to establish a stylistic independence from England, and physically, to accommodate for differences in characteristics of native wood species.

Nonetheless, a chair with a 300-year old history would likely have some design hurdles to overcome in a contemporary space.  The chair of choice at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Windsor chairs for many people tend to conjure up dusty images of Colonial-era grandmothers darning socks at the hearth. Not so!

Fresh variations of the centuries-old standard have announced their arrival, but with a modern twist.  Being more streamlined, they have enough moxie to impart a historic nod while still commanding deserving attention. Extremely versatile, they fit right into a kitchen, dining room, living room, library or lounge.

O&G Studio, a Rhode Island, US based furniture company designs and manufactures some wildly chic, candy-colored Windsor variations.  Their bright, solid paint finish presents a more graphic, updated appearance,  All O&G designs and materials are fabricated and sourced in New England, using local manufacturers and suppliers.  Their products qualify for LEED points, and they offer no VOC paint finishes upon request.

Kartell’s Comback Chair, designed by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, uses a single mold of glossy Thermoplastic technopolymer to define its stunning shape.   Utilizing an interlocking hexagonal belt at the lumbar region with radiating back supports, the sleek design truly represents a modern “come back” of the traditional Windsor Comback style chair.

The Modern Windsor Dining Chair by US-based retailer West Elm carries a more angular, modest variation.   Similarly, Christopher Specce’s Windsor Chair and Windsor Settee, designed for Matter, are strikingly minimalist.  Specce’s interpretation of the chair was inspired by the history of the Windsor chair itself.   “They are a quintessentially American object and in my research I was fascinated to learn how important they were to the founding of America.”

Lenox Workshops, based in northeast Ohio, builds contemporary Windsor chairs one at a time from steam-bent white oak, and hardwood seats including cherry and walnut.  The chairs are stained to emphasize the natural beauty of the wood. Lenox Workshops’ chairs embrace the time-honored elegance of fine woodworking.  Still, they have a unique dynamic quality to them, as if they may get up and walk on their own.  Lenox Workshops owner Joe Graham proclaims: “I made chairs that combined what I felt were the most beautiful of the many Windsor elements.  After becoming adept at refining the traditional elements, I began to streamline and add new elements. The chairs that I make now are of my own design.  Additions to the tradition”.

Ironically, it appears that the recent redesign of the Windsor chair is actually in keeping with tradition.  Throughout its lineage, the Windsor chair design has continually evolved to meet the ever-changing desires and aesthetics of its community.




  1. Marissa E says:

    I LOVE these! (and you). Your design commentaries are perfect keep it up!!! 🙂


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