Best Small Modern Side Chairs: Hay, Eames, Thonet & 11 More

Best Small Modern Side Chairs: Hay, Eames, Thonet & 11 More

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Maxwell Ryan
May 18, 2015

When you want to fit a number of folks around a table, having an attractive, sturdy side chair with a small footprint is a must. Good for dining tables as well as around the house, there are many, many options, so I've compiled a list of those that I think are unique, more attractive or just plain smart.

This one up top (The J77 on the right) is in my house as is the J104 chair on the left. Both are part of part of Hay's 2011 relaunch of the Danish furniture classics originally made for FDB, the Danish Consumers’ Co-operative Society. "FDB’s furniture production started in the 1940s and their main idea was functionalist and democratic design for the people." Both are made of beech, come in four colors and ship from Finland in a heartbeat.

(Image credit: Crate & Barrel)

A fresh new version of the classic Thonet design (see below), the Cole has less bent wood and more straight lines. Solid beechwood and only in black.


(Image credit: Crate & Barrel)

From Crate & Barrel and made in the original Thonet factories in Eastern Europe, the Vienna hews to one of the classic shapes and adds a seat cushion or a little more comfort. Solid beechwood, lacquer finish (grey, white and black) and engineered wood seat.


(Image credit: DWR)

The Era from DWR, also hails from the Czech Republic and sports another great Thonet design. Also made of beechwood but with a waterbased stain and varnish, the wood and construction must be of higher quality to warrant the 2.5x price.


(Image credit: Blu Dot)

From Blu Dot, the Real Good chair is not only small in scale it also packs flat and is super light. If you like modern and minimal this is a very good solution. "Powder-coated steel ships flat and folds along laser-cut lines to create a dynamic and comfortable chair. As skinny as a supermodel yet far more sturdy. Available in aqua, ivory and white with gray legs or four glossy tone-on tone colors: black, green, humble red or navy."


(Image credit: DWR)

From DWR and inspired by classic Shaker Designs, the Salt combines a simple shape and a simple price in FOUR colors. Yes, they also have red. Solid European beech wood; beech plywood; water-based paint.


(Image credit: IKEA)

I love this design from IKEA which is made entirely out of aluminum so that it can be used inside or outside. The seat is perforated for good drainage and good looks. It comes in three colors: yellow, black and white.


(Image credit: IKEA)

A Thonet inspired side chair, also by Ola Wihlborg and IKEA, this super affordable one packs flat for self assembly and is made out of beechwood and beech veneer with a clear acrylic lacquer.


(Image credit: Hive Modern)

This is the licensed original made in Germany by Vitra, and it's a beauty. One day, I'd like to have a few of these around my table. Designed by Jean Prouvé in 1930, the chair now comes in many color combinations and is made of lacquered tubular and sheet steel. Seat and back in natural or dark oak.


(Image credit: Industry West)

NOT a licensed original and made at a much lower quality level, this version of the Standard Chair is extremely affordable and comes in many color combinations. This is a good gateway drug on your way up to the real thing one day....


(Image credit: BEND)

Small batch made by Bend in Los Angeles, I include this to show a completely different and fresh direction. Made of Hot-dip galvanized iron to prevent rust, with a powder coated finish, it comes in over eight colorways.


(Image credit: DWR)

This commercial quality chair from DWR (1999) is super slim and durable. Made of natural or coffee-stained beechwood, it is NOT light in form, but that's a good thing for those who want something with a little more weight.


(Image credit: Emeco)

Famous since 1944 and in continuous production, the Navy Side Chair is super slim and light and made almost entirely out of one piece of hollow aluminum. It will last for life and is even guaranteed for that long. The shiny version is an eye catcher and will run you over 2x. Yes, there are knockoffs.


(Image credit: DWR)

One of the original Eames designs that has been reissued in recent years, the dowel leg design is a lovely economical shape that has more warmth and softness than the metal base versions. This one, made of molded plastic, is more affordable than the fiberglass version, but the colors are more limited.

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