There are SO MANY dining chairs out there that it can be hard to narrow down your options. We could do a post that covered 50, or even 100, different styles, but for the sake of brevity and decisiveness, we've chosen 10 particular types and sources to hone in on. These categories aren't academic, they're not chronological, but they do represent a sample of the wide range that's out there.
There are loads of talented contemporary designers who've created successful dining chair lines — including Philippe Starck, the Bouroullec Brothers, Patricia Urquiola, Blu Dot, and others. You can find their designs through higher-end retailers, from DWR to Vitra to B & B Italia.
The term "classic modern" is used here to refer to mid-century modern styles by designers like Charles & Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia, and Eero Saarinen — all of whom favored streamlined styles in materials such as metal, fiberglass, and plastics.
Solid wood chairs in classic American styles — such as Mission, Arts and Crafts, and Craftsman — remain popular for their simplicity, durability, and ability to go well with lots of different decorating schemes.
Art Deco style favors a streamlined aesthetic that celebrates the machine age. In general, Deco chairs are a little sleeker than their contemporary industrial cousins.
French Café Chairs
We're using this loose term to cover a broad range of café-style chairs, from folding bistro chairs to the ultimate café chair, the classic Thonet.
Mod / Space Age
Made from plastics and other "futuristic" materials, mod chairs tend to have sleek, curvilinear forms. They're often available in bright colors or basic white.
Many of the styles that we're loosely calling "romantic" could also fall into the "traditional" category. The main differentiator is that while traditional chairs encompass a wider range of styles, we associate romantic style with the kind of chairs that would work in a room with candelabras, chandeliers, and crystal place settings.
These classic American chairs are hand-made from wood with a straight back and webbed seat. For a great comprehensive list of Shaker chair resources, see this post.
The word "traditional" encompasses a huge range of styles, but in general, these types of dining chairs are a little more ornate than their modern counterparts and many of them have upholstered seats and backs.
Avante-Garde / Offbeat
If you're looking for something out of the ordinary that sets your dining table apart, check out cutting edge shops like Moss, The Future Perfect, and Voos. Stores like these often work directly with designers to get new, limited edition pieces into the marketplace.
Photo: Vitra Panton Chairs at Design Public