If you have ever worked in hospitality then you are probably familiar with folding chairs. Although folding chairs are a regular fixture in modern life, they have been around for a very long time. In terms of versatility and utility they are, perhaps, one of the best ways to add seating to any area expecting more guests than usual. Furthermore, most models are easily moved and stored, making them a great investment for any large institution that often hosts large functions. For example, hotels can use the folding chairs to furnish their assembly rooms for trade shows or conventions. Schools can utilize folding chairs as a relatively inexpensive way to seat their students or for their auditoriums. Also, offices are a perfect place to employ folding chairs as a way to provide uniform seating for employees.

The Earliest Folding Chairs

While folding chairs may often be considered a more modern construct, earlier models can be traced back to many ancient civilizations such as Rome, Egypt, and Greece. In fact, King Tutenkhamen’s throne was endowed with the capacity to fold up the back. The ancient models were made from wood in most cases. However, in contrast to modern folding chairs (which are typically plain and functional), the ancient models were highly adorned. Some of the Greek and Roman folding chairs were gilded. Also, ornate carvings were often found on ancient model folding chairs. Precious materials were often the medium for some of the fixtures on these pieces. The Roman senate house was known to use folding chairs as well. Before the fall of the Roman Republic uniformity of chairs was instituted to dispel the appearance of any “head seat,” as the throne was a symbol of monarchy that was opposed by the Roman idea of democracy.

The First Widespread Use of Folding Chairs

The first widespread use of folding chairs came about during the Middle Ages. When early Christians were forced to stay on the move because of religious persecution, folding chairs allowed for the easy moving and setting up of seating for churches. The simplicity of movement in folding chairs is still one of the main reasons for their popularity. As in the Middle Ages, folding chairs are still widely used in churches today.

Modern Folding Chairs

What we know as modern folding chairs came to be in 1947. This first aluminum model was invented by Frederic Arnold. Arnold’s folding chairs incorporated fabric straps on the back and seat of the chair. Frederic Arnold’s chairs were very successful. A decade later, in 1957, he had his own company called the Frederic Arnold Company. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Arnold’s company was the first to mass-produce folding chairs. It was the cornerstone of his furniture business.

Folding Chairs Today

Today, folding chairs are produced in a variety of styles and are constructed from many different materials. Blow molded plastic, aluminum, and wood are very common materials for folding chairs. Typically, they weigh less than ten pounds. This is a very purposeful specification. The lightweight nature of the typical folding chair is a key to its functionality as they are most often deployed en mass. The usual design features its folding pivot directly under the seat. The back rest of the chair is connected to the front legs. They tilt from the back, crossing the seat near the center. The back legs and the seat itself form a ninety-degree angle when it is in the unfolded position. When the chair folds up the front legs fold back by hinges that are located on both sides of the seat. Once the front legs come into alignment with the back legs the seat is also folded parallel with the back making for an easily- stored flat piece. This makes it possible to stack or place folding chairs on a dolly allowing for the consolidation of a great deal of space. There are also models that fold in an “X” pattern in either the front or back. The most recognizable version of the “X” style folding chair is the director’s chair. In these models the back support consists of a piece of fabric which is pulled taught once the chair is open. Folding chairs are also manufactured in a variety of styles. Generally, they are easily stacked and can often be purchased in a set with an accompanying dolly onto which they can all be loaded. The dolly makes it simple to wheel a whole set of folding chairs into a central location where they can be unfolded and deployed according to seating necessity.

Folding Chairs at Home

Folding chairs are often purchased in large quantities for the purpose of adding extra seating to an office, school, church, or other large institution, but they are also very helpful in a domestic setting. If you ever entertain in your home it may be a good idea to keep a few folding chairs neatly tucked away. When folded up, they won’t take up much space like most furniture. However, if you have a dinner party, card game, or picnic, they will provide a simple solution for any situation where your guest list exceeds the amount of normal seating in your home. Also, you will save yourself a great deal of elbow grease during any large social events by employing folding chairs as your seating method. Usually, they are so light that anyone can setup and tear down a room furnished with folding furniture regardless of their physical strength. This allows one to sample a variety of configurations without the worry of an inefficient or unattractive arrangement. With folding chairs (and tables) you can simply move the fixtures about according to any circumstance, no matter how dynamic.