Swivel Chairs: Turning Back Time...

The swivel chair is a staple of the modern office, whether that office is in a traditional workplace or located in the home. Though they are of such a simple design, it is in fact difficult to imagine an office without one! In this edition of the Russkell Furniture blog, we look at the history of this indispensable piece of furniture and you may be surprised to learn just how far back it dates...

The first design of a rotating chair that has been found is in a manuscript from over five centuries ago in the year 1505. Authored by Martin Löffelholz, an aristocrat from Nuremburg in Bavaria, Germany, the book contains a vast array of sketches of an equally-vast array of technical gadgets. 

In addition to the design for a rudimentary swivel chair, the manuscript also includes designs for new kinds of drills, compasses, clamps and wheel locks, as well as some rather frightening torture devices! Löffelholz's swivel chair was never actually made, as far as can be told. It was not until more than two hundred years later that this momentous event took place. 

We now jump to the year 1775, when American diplomat and statesman Thomas Jefferson was appointed to a committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. Though just 33 years of age at the time, Jefferson was an extraordinarily talented man in many ways, being a successful lawyer, philosopher and architect.­ 

Drafting the Declaration of Independence understandably involved many hours of work sitting at a desk, which Jefferson found to be physically demanding. This inspired him to adapt his Windsor chair by placing an iron spindle between its bottom and top halves. He added rollers which, originally used to raise and lower window sashes, allowed the chair to freely rotate. The swivel chair was born. 

Surprisingly, Jefferson did not patent his invention and in fact the patent for such a device was not applied for and granted until 1853 by Peter Ten Eyck. This was the true beginning of the swivel chair's success and the design has been constantly improved upon since. Today, swivel chairs come in all shapes and sizes and there is a fantastic selection to choose from here at Russkell Furniture. 

We'd like to invite you to browse our collection of swivel chairs on our website. There is something to suit every taste and budget and each chair is guaranteed to be of superlative quality and made using the finest materials.

Posted in Product news on