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Please Be Seated: The Art of Seating Furniture

Side Chair, c. 1710, English

While climate, culture, and custom can determine whether people sit on the floor or on seating furniture, early Europeans sat on simple stools and benches. Chairs were regarded as symbols of authority for great persons and rulers, commemorated today by the term “Chairman.” They were made more comfortable with the addition of cushions and upholstery. Later, seating furniture became important as a form of artistic expression, varied in material, technique, and form and sometimes even non-functional decoration or sculpture to be looked at, not used.