From presidents to prisoners, celebrities to shoe polishers, one chair has connected them all. For over a century this chair has gone nearly unnoticed, and yet it has been used as a symbol of power in some of the world’s most iconic images. This is not a throne of gold, no, it’s a chair of wicker; and its humble material and origins point to the fascinating promise of great “equalizers.”

You’ve seen them before, maybe on your favorite record, at your grandmothers’ house, a presidential headshot, or in your family’s photo album. But do you think you’re ready to see wicker furniture a whole lot differently?

Make sure you’ve grabbed a chair for yourself to hear the magnificent story of how this popular furniture—and one eye-catching chair, in particular—has been a quiet equalizer for over 100 years!

Image: The top of a Ratan "Peacock Chair"

Source: Violet Grey

So, what makes wicker so popular?

Well, first of all, these chairs make everyone who sits in them look as cool and confident as the next. We can see this time and time again in the countless portraits taken with wicker as their main prop, regardless of the subject’s social class.

But wicker even, quite literally, made people cooler! Before air conditioners and electric fans came onto the scene, wicker furniture helped those who could afford it cool down in the sweltering summer sun, or under hot portrait studio lighting.

As the popularity of wicker grew, so did the styles. And there’s one, specifically, that stood out against the rest as the most regal. It was, and still is, a throne for whoever sits upon it. In fact, you’ve probably seen this chair way more than you think you have.

This awesome video from Vox brings us through the rich history of photography’s most iconic chair.

Via: Vox 1

You can see more awesome content from Vox by visiting their YouTube channel, website, or by following them on Facebook or Twitter! Click here to see the library of the videos we’ve already curated from them.

Of the fads and fashions that have brought us through history, wicker furniture delivered something quite different.

There’s real power in objects that can connect to everyone.

Although often overlooked, these wicker pieces sit there, tying us all together. Because they have been so ubiquitous for so long, they have the unique ability to make the powerful seem like “one of us” and let the average person look as though they belong to the realm of the elite. To draw out a metaphor, wicker represents all of us, in a way, doesn’t it? How woven together our lives are; how, even though we try to separate ourselves with classes and borders, we are most supportive when wrapped up together.

Who knew you could get that deep into human history and emotions with just a chair. But I guess it makes sense: the designs we create will always represent who we are in one way or another.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

Explore more of our history!

Click the button below to hear more of the stories that create the foundation for societies today!

Go back in time!

Notes:

  1. “Why This Chair Is on so Many Album Covers.” YouTube, Vox, 4 Oct. 2019, youtu.be/_V10kWLh71U. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world to the simple joys in life. Her experiences with mental health and loss fuel her curiosity to connect to what’s happening on our planet in a different way. Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses!