If there’s an item of furniture sure to bring a wave of nostalgia, it’s the rocking chair. Making its way into homes around the globe, the humble rocker first appeared in America in the 18th century, proudly dubbed the nation’s favourite chair. It’s not known who exactly invented the chair — or when — but some records point to the hands of US inventor Benjamin Franklin. Initially, the rocking chair began entering hospitals and health care facilities, before a liking for the chair grew into the homes and verandas symbolic of America’s South.
The first prominent rocking chair design was the Windsor Chair, with its low loop back and narrow arms resembling a dining chair. Alongside the classic shaker style farmer’s slat back, other variations like the Salem rocker and Boston rocker soon followed, eminent by elegant high comb backs and thick scroll seats. Moving away from the timber staple, designers in the late 19th century began experimenting with wicker, fitting to both the inside and out.
While some designers bypassed the rocking chair design, others have readily made their own take on it. With a slow start in Europe, it wasn’t long before the chair’s popularity encouraged visionary Nordic designs and eventually the modern day gliders. In 1860, Michael Thonet designed the first bentwood rocking chair that has lasted the test of both time and trend. In a similar fashion, the modernist movement brought the Eames Moulded Armchair Rocker to the hall of fame.
The rocking chair legacy has grown out of its therapeutic movement. The mere mention conjures up “rockabye baby”, and the soothing rhythms of childhood, or a grandmother’s knitting spot. But forget the daggy connotations, we’re taking this icon of American culture and exploring its place on a designer’s drawing board, from the backyard of the Bell Street Residence by Techne Architecture and Design. Who would have thought a design that began with a chair on two ice skates would come to be a universal symbol of comfort?
J16 Rocking Chair
While the rocking chair was born in the USA, its ripples were felt across Europe, notably in the Nordic regions. Esteemed for the Wishbone chair, pioneering Danish designer Hans Wegner also made his mark with the J16 Rocking Chair. The J16 Rocking Chair is a refined take on the traditional style rocker, made from an oak frame and handwoven cord. As one of Hans Wegner’s most celebrated designs, the J16 Rocking Chair promotes a freedom of movement and Wegner’s precise practice. Available at Great Dane Furniture.
Eames Moulded Armchair Rocker
The Eames Moulded Armchair Rocker is a titan of modern furniture design. Perhaps the most renowned rocker today, the Eames Rocking Chair is made from moulded plastic, taking claim as the first industrially manufactured chair. Evolving into the modern era, the Eames Rocking Chair is now made of eco-friendly recyclable polypropylene while still privileging the original’s form and function. Akin with the mid-century movement, it doesn’t look like the Eames Moulded Armchair Rocker status will be fading anytime soon, apart of MOMA’s permanent collection and available at Luke.
Nanny Rocking Chair
The Nanny Rocking Chair didn’t get its name from the rocking chair stereotype, rather its famed Danish designer Nanna Ditzel. Entering the rocking scene in 1969, it was one of the first chairs based on the idea of no legs, out of Nanna Ditzel’s experimental approach. Available in black matt or natural, Nanna performed magic with the hardwearing and lightweight material of rattan. These wicker chairs only get better with age, developing a beautiful patina over time. Available at Domo Furniture.
Pelicano Rocking Chair
The Pelicano Rocking Chair fits somewhere between a rocking chair and a hammock. Made of solid oak or walnut and suspended cotton canvas, sinking into the Pelicano Rocking Chair is entry into supreme comfort. The rocking chair was designed by Michel Arnold, one of the fathers of flat-packing and ready to put together furniture True to the French designer’s form, the Pelicano Rocking Chair requires assembly. Discover the last and final legacy of the designer for Objekto at Hub Furniture.
Comback Rocking Chair
The Comback Rocking Chair may be oddly familiar to you, revisiting the classic Windsor-style rocking chair in a contemporary context. Designed by Patricia Urquiola, the Comback is nostalgic of the rockers that graced verandas and reminiscent of our grandmother’s living room – it’s name is even a play on the old ‘comb back chair’. The use of batch-died thermoplastic technopolymer, a combination of wood and plastic, ensures the comback is at the cutting edge. One of four Comback Variations, the Rocking Chair is a recent addition in Australia at Space Furniture.
Designer Adam Goodrum put a distinctly Australian stamp on the American touchstone, with a playful and lighthearted rocker embracing the outdoors, as we know best. The Tait Volley Rocker proves a rocking chair shouldn’t be kept to the back porch, but dotted by the pool, the deck, lawn or even inside. Stepping away from the timber structure, the deep and comfortable seat is made from ‘nettled’ steel mesh is inspired by backyard tennis. With all the modern trimmings, the rocker epitomises the best of this great southern land’s outdoor lifestyle.
First Rocking Chair
Hannes Muller Van Severen wasn’t a designer who believed the rocking chair was redundant. Rather, the swinging motion reminded him of childhood. The First Rocking Chair, designed in 2013, is one of the more recent to rock ’n’ roll onto the furniture design realm. The refined design takes the concept right back to basics, in both geometry and its steel and leather materiality. Strong yet simplistic, the First Rocking chair swings gracefully through space.
Housse Rocking Armchair
If you’re after a rocking chair to curl up in, the Housse is it. Framed in double-panelled beech and polar and leather upholstered, the House Chair synthesises the relaxing and the rocking. Designed in 2018, the chair is manufactured by Italian brand Baxter and available through Criteria, exemplifying luxury and attention to detail. A cushioned rocking chair has never looked so comfortable.
The Schaukelstuhl Rocking Chair
The Schaukelstuhl Rocking Chair by Thonet is a crowned masterpiece of the rocking chair family. The chair has been around since the early days, crafted in the late 1800s. The iconic design is characterised by elaborate wooden curves and a handwoven cane seat and back. Hailing from Germany, the Thonet design legacy ensured the rocking chair has remained relevant and an American tick of approval, claiming a spot in MOMA. To see the Schaukelstuhl Rocking Chair for yourself, head to Space Furniture.
Rocking Nest Chair
The Rocking Nest Chair was designed by Anker Bak, with his sister and her newborn baby in mind. Reflecting the foldable style of rocking chair (historically popular in travel), the Rocking Nest Chair is petite, perfect for being on display or tucked away. The design sews together wood, leather and canvas while experimenting with the rocker prototype. The result is a light and innovative rocker that appears to almost float. An ethereal addition to a children’s space or nursery, you can find your Rocking Nest Chair at Cult.