Designers give the wooden chair the revolution it needs.

[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]magine two empty chairs in a packed cocktail lounge. One’s cushioned, fluffy, with a cool swivel. The other used to be a tree, smooth and unyielding. No surprise which a comfort-seeking guest would choose.

Wooden chairs have long been perceived to be hard, uncomfortable and stiff . The natural grain, colour and warmth of wood make them attractive additions to the home, though they are not necessarily a guest’s first choice of seat. Designers are always being challenged to find the sweet spot between aesthetics and functionality. To do so, the typical components of a chair are reconsidered, and unusual methods are used to better provide physical comfort without sacrificing visual appeal.

The results are a far cry from the archetypal bum rest. For instance, Hans J. Wegner’s signature Shell Chair incorporated armrests and seat in a single piece of moulded plywood. The revolutionary design drew scepticism from consumers when it was launched in 1963 but it has since gained favour for its deceptive simplicity and uncanny comfort. The push towards reshaping people’s perception of wooden chairs persists today, with more innovative designs that marry form with function and which put woodwork and craftsmanship to the test. Here are some examples.

(RELATED: The Peak Expert: 7 Types of Wood Best for Homes.)