Guide to Rocking Chairs: 10 Styles & Sources

Guide to Rocking Chairs: 10 Styles & Sources

Sarah Coffey
Nov 9, 2010

When you're setting up a nursery, a rocking chair is one of the most significant and symbolic purchases you'll make. It's also a piece that can easily last beyond the baby stages if it's well chosen. Here are ten types we like, from the iconic Eames RAR to traditional Shaker styles.

Classic Modern

The Eames RAR is probably the most iconic mid-century modern rocking chair, and it's hugely popular among stylish parents today. There are several versions: Modernica sells fiberglass reproductions and Herman Miller produces the newer, molded plastic versions. (For a run-down of the difference, see this thread.)

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Design Within Reach sells a big selection of Herman Miller chairs, and they have the Eames Molded Plastic RAR in 10 colors for $480. "RAR" refers to rocker height, armchair shell, and rocking base.


If you're looking for something that's nearer to the cutting edge, there are a number of talented living designers who've experimented with recreating the classic rocking chair.

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Contemporary furniture-makers like Blu Dot, Offi, and Gus*Modern have all taken a stab at designing rockers. The Blu Dot Buttercup Rocker is a memorable bent-ply design that sells for $850 at Seattle-based Velocity (among other stores).

Danish Modern

You can often find simple modern wooden rocker frames with cushions at thrift stores — all it takes to make them new again is some cleaning and perhaps new cushions.

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If you can't find the vintage version, try this reproduction Mid-Century Rocker Chair at Urban Outfitters. At $288, it's affordable, and it's a design that can easily make the transition out of the nursery and into the living room.

Super Streamlined

Bentwood-frame rockers have a simple, streamlined design that fits well in a modern room. On the high end, look for classics by Jens Risom and Ralph Rapson. On the low end, there's the ever-popular IKEA Poang Chair.

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In 1945, architect Ralph Rapson designed the Rapid Rocker for Knoll. It's a sleek, bentwood upholstered model that's lightweight but durable. Online baby store Zac and Zoe currently has them in stock for $1,475.

Organic Modern

This term doesn't define 'organic' in terms of production materials (although it may include organic pieces). Rather, it describes a style that's organic in form — comfortable, but still somewhat streamlined and modern.

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Maxwell's favorite rocker is this one — the Nuseryworks Sleepytime Rocker, available at Fawn and Forest for $900. He says, "It's expensive, yes, but you won't throw it away or want to put it in a closet when you're done with the baby stages."

Traditional American

Solid wood rockers are available in several classic American styles, including Mission, Arts and Crafts, and even Adirondack.

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For a very straightforward, classic wooden rocker (the kind you see all the time on porches) try the Rocking Chair Company online. They have a bunch of basic wooden styles and colors, including this Teak Rocking Chair, $360.


These classic American rockers are handmade with a webbed or slat back. They're very traditional, but they're also simple enough that they can sometimes work with more modern decor.

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Massachusetts-based Shaker Workshops carries both finished hand-crafted pieces and DIY kits, which run much cheaper. The Slatback Shaker Rocker, starts at $295 for a kit or $590 for a made-to-order rocker.

Thonet Bentwood

The Thonet Rocker is a classic late 19th century design that feels very traditional now, but was revolutionary when it was designed. Michael Thonet invented the bentwood production process, which made these chairs relatively inexpensive to produce.

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This Antique Thonet Rocker sells at 1stDibs for $1,750, but you can also find versions on craigslist and in thrift stores. Prices can run from a $40 steal on craiglist to several thousands of dollars for an antique with provenance.

Deco / Industrial

Emeco's chairs have a machine-age aesthetic that comes in part from the aluminum used to make them. These aren't the most comfortable chairs ever, but they look great and they're extremely durable.

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Philippe Starck designed this Emeco Heritage Rocker, a contemporary take on their iconic designs. The chair is made from 80% recycled aluminum, and you can find it for $645 at Hive and other modern stores.

Avant Garde

If you care a lot about design and you want to invest in a piece that stands out and will have no trouble surviving beyond the baby years, search the selection at cutting-edge companies like Droog, Generate, and De La Espada.

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Turkish design firm Autoban is known for creating innovative, sculptural chairs like the 212 Sleepy Rocker. In America, you can find these through high-end design store, De La Espada, where they sell for $2,585.

Guide to Dining Chairs: 10 Styles & Sources
Metal and Wire Frame Rockers | Apartment Therapy
The Illustrated History of the Rocking Chair | Design Boom

Photo: Wes & Kayla Schwartz | Apartment Therapy

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