What is a Chiavari Chair?

Chiavari Chair is an odd name with it’s complicated spelling and pronunciation , and it is named after a ancient Italian City. The first edition of a Chiavari Chair was very different from now , many versions have been created over the years and the most recent design appearing in 1955 , and is still very popular today.

The Chiavari Chair of today is very famous and are used to present great events like the Grammys and Oscar Parties. In 1953 we saw the resurgence of the modern Chiavari Chair at the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouveline in the USA , and  today is still the most favourite chair for weddings  and functions throughout the world today.

The first Chiavarina Chair was created in 1807 by a furniture maker who was born in Chiavari on the northwester coast Italian coast, named Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi, who at the invitation of the President of the Economic Society of Chiavari, the Marquis Stefano Rivarola, who reworked some chairs in the French Empire style, Simplifying the decorative elements and lightening the structural elements of the chair. So the current Chiavari Chair was created in Italy but the idea comes from early France. This chair has been popular for over 200 years and is a classic in its own right .

This chair was a success and soon many factories opened in Chiavari and surrounding towns in Italy .

When Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi died in 1855 , about 600 workers were making Chiavari chairs. This new style of chair was praised by Charles Albert of Savoy, Napoleon 111, and the sculptor Antonio Canova.

The success of the Chiavarina Chair declined following the introduction of the Austrian styled chairs of Michael Thonet which were mass-produced, less expensive, and consisting of fewer elements and easily assembled, during  the second half of the twentieth century.

The features of the original Descalzi Chiavarina Chair were designed with each component made for specific stresses it will carry. Descalzi designed a slot system for the construction and a system to tie strips of the purple willow which formed the seat directly to the frame.

The timbers originally used by Descalzi were Wild Cherry and Maple, then added Beech and Ash from forests in Italy and more recently Black Locust or Acacia wood from areas in U.S.A.

Chiavari Chairs come in a variety of finishes, colours and materials including  the original wooden frame, and recently manufactured in strong Poly Propyline or Poly Styrene hard wearing resins, and now in aluminium or steel framework. Our current range of rigid resin Chiavari Chairs come in our most popular colours, each sporting the latest Vinyl H.B. cushions, that are easy to clean, and save on laundry costs.

Below are photos of the hand carved Chiavari chair given to Pope Leo X111 by the Italian City of Chiavari when the City became a Diocese in 1892 , a true classic. Also a recent photo of the town of Chiavari along with the map location in the city of Chiavari, just south of Genoa.