With their quirky name and unique designs, the Orkney chairs may be something entirely new to homeowners exploring furniture for their living space. Let’s explore the Scottish craftsmanship history of this fascinating design dating all the way back to ancient Scotland!
Origins in Scotland
The Orkney chair originated as a modest woven stool, crafted using straw that was plentiful to the Orkney Islands — a gathering of small spits of land off of Scotland’s northeast coast. As time passed, these straw stools gradually began to grow in height, keeping their rounded shape but reaching upwards of two to three feet tall. Historians believe these winged chairs were built to protect their owners from the blustery winds of their island homes.
With constantly shifting materials, every single Orkney chair was unique to its craftsman. They came in all shapes and sizes depending on what was available to the builder at the time, lending to charmingly hodge-podged designs that eventually began to incorporate driftwood and more sturdy materials into their construction. Once wood was introduced to the Orkney chair, its shape became a more uniform square and soon the traditional low-sitting drawer would become a part of its design. This is the iconic Orkney chair we recognize today.
Orkney Chairs in the Modern Era
In 1890, these reproduced Orkney chairs were first created on a commercial level. They still retain their low profiles and tall woven backs, though now they are mainly constructed using natural fronds to create dimensional, artistic patterns. The distinctive wrap-around shape of the chair has earned it the nickname “the warming chair,” and it still makes an excellent choice for getting comfortable in front of a toasty fireplace.
Growing popularity has caused advancements to be made upon the original design of the Orkney chair, lifting its seat from the ground so that it can be utilized in dining spaces, offices and dens. The same elegant natural braiding is used to construct the swooping back of the chair, while its arms and legs are beautifully crafted from a variety of durable hardwoods. These chairs come in a wide assortment of organic, natural-looking colors that seamlessly blend contemporary design with rustic appeal.
Orkney chairs have a long history and an endearingly curious design that is sure to be a conversation piece in anyone’s home!