Ladder Back Chair – 1903

The Ladder Back Chair (Hill House Chair) is an iconic chair created in 1903 by the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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 was exclusively designed for the White Bedroom of Mackintosh’s famous Hill House in Scotland. It is an example of the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.  This chair combines figurative and symbolic ideals with linear geometry undoubtedly inspired by the abstract graphics of Japanese design. It is more than just a chair in the sense that it exemplifies the articulation of space by the Mackintosh, with its high back and rows of horizontal bars topped with mesh: planks and straight posts crossed together to create a solid frame.

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

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The strictly geometric structure contrasts sharply with the delicate white décor of the master bedroom. The elegant Ladder Back Chair is extremely delicate and decorated for purely aesthetic purposes. The slender hind legs are elliptical with a series of ladders connecting them together. The seat cushion is also very small to emphasize the fragility of the chair.

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. 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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