What Is a Banquet Chair?
A banquet chair is a lightweight, four-legged, stackable or folding chair with no armrests used to provide short-term seating for events like banquets, from which its name is derived. When not in use, they’re designed for ease of bulk storage. These aspects inform the major design elements, which are:
- Cheap and easy to manufacture
- Lightweight but robust materials
- Stackable or foldable
- An absence of armrests
Where/How Banquet Chairs Are Used
Banquet chairs are most frequently used in short-duration events: banquets, meetings, town halls, and the like. Because these events don’t last very long, and can be held in a multitude of venues, banquet chairs are seen as an ideal solution because they can be set up quickly, just about anywhere.
Note that these chairs are not designed to be used for several hours at a time. If you try to use this type of chair at your computer desk, and spend the better part of the day sitting in it, you’re almost certain to experience back pain.
Types of Banquet Chairs
Because these chairs were only designed to be used for occasional, short-term seating, one of the more crucial aspects of their design became ease of storage. To that end, two different solutions were developed, and these become our two broad types:
That way, when they weren’t needed, dozens, or even hundreds of them could be stored in a relatively small space, then pulled out and set up quickly when and as needed. The fact that these chairs do not have, and were never designed with armrests make designing for mass storage a much simpler proposition.
Of course, within those two major types of banquet chairs, you do see some subtle variation. For instance, in the realm of stackable chairs, you can find:
- Teardrop back
- Dome back
- Crown back
And among folding chairs, you can find wood, metal or plastic variants.
Origin of the Banquet Chair
The modern banquet chair is an evolution of the Chiavari chair, developed in 1807 by an Italian cabinetmaker from the city of Chiavari named Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi.
Descalzi was presented with a challenge from one of his patrons, the Marquis Stefano Rivarola, who had purchased an extravagant Empire Chair from Paris, and wanted a lighter, simpler version of the seat, crafted with less expensive materials and containing fewer embellishments that was robust enough for semi-regular use.
In other words, he wanted a simple, functional seating option.
Chiavari set to work and presented his design later that year.
It was an immediate success, and in the intervening years, an entire industry grew up around mass producing his new type of seating for various Courts, all over Europe. In fact, in 1982, a pair of Chiavari Chairs were gifted to Pope Leo XIII!
Initially, these chairs were made entirely of wood (mostly wild cherry, beech, and ash), but with the dawning of the industrial revolution and the development of modern materials, that began to change.