Ladder Back Chair – 1903

The Ladder Back Chair (Hill House Chair) was designed in 1903 by the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Hill House in Scotland. The chair was exclusively designed for the White Bedroom and is an example of the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Ladder Back Chair, 1903, C. Mackintosh
Ladder Back Chair, 1903, C. Mackintosh

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What is the main feature of the Ladder Back Chair?

The Hill House Chair combines figurative and symbolic ideals with a linear geometry, no doubt inspired by the abstract graphics of Japanese design. It is more than a mere chair in that it illustrates Mackintosh’s articulation of space with its high back and rows of horizontal bars, topped with a grid: with slats and straight poles crossed together to create a resistant frame.

Mackintosh felt that in this case the design was far more important than the function, and the chair was intended more as an art piece than to actually be used as a chair.

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This sculptural chair’s spidery appearance acts as a stark contrast to the pretty white Art feminine décor of the main bedroom. The elegant Ladder Back Chair is extremely delicate with it’s sole purpose decoration. The slender back legs are elliptical in shape with a series of ladder rails linking them together. The seat pad is also very small to emphasise the chair’s fragility.

Hill House, C. Mackintosh
White Bedroom, Hill House, C. R. Mackintosh

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The Ladder Back Chair has many modernist features with a minimalist design.

It is a piece of furniture with a strong decorative effect, elegant and appropriate for every type of environment, and which is still surprisingly current.

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