Rocking Chairs

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OUR FAVORITE VINTAGE ROCKING CHAIRS

Perfect for transforming porches and sunrooms into pleasant spaces worthy of lingering for hours, vintage rocking chairs are the literal manifestation of the phrase take it easy. A beloved icon not only for its ability to induce calmness, but a rocking good time, the vintage rocking chair is also something of an American legend, as well.

In fact, many vintage rocker enthusiasts believe that it was Benjamin Franklin who invented the first rocking chair. Although it’s now widely accepted that the first rocker was created in the early 1700s, when Franklin was still a tot, the rocking chair’s ties to American Gothicism continue to endure thanks to its symbolistic presence in novels like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Tennessee Williams plays.

Yet the rocking chair of the 18th Century is not the vintage rocking chair of today. In fact, as early as the 1800s, designers began taking stylistic risks with the rocking chair. No longer was the vintage rocking chair a stand-in for a lullaby, but a bold and daring chair with attitude to spare. To learn more about our all-time favorite incarnations of the used rocking chair, read on!

THONET ROCKING CHAIR

With a curly-cue silhouette that reminds us of the signature on a love note, we can’t get enough of Thonet’s bentwood rocking chair. In the early 19th Century, German-Austrian designer, Michael Thonet, made it his life’s work to figuring out how to bend wood. It turned out the secret to accomplishing the feat was applying hot steam to wood veneer. With the code cracked, the first accent chair out of the gates was the No. 14 Café Chair. A few years later, the Thonet bentwood rocker followed. Although the bentwood rocker features a dramatic, swooping form that’s reminiscent of a Victorian sleigh or carriage, the chair’s design seems to defy aging. Whether used in a period home, Mid-Century home, or contemporary apartment, this used rocking chair has the uncanny ability to look perfectly of the moment.

FRANCO ALBINI ROCKING CHAIR

If you’re looking for a used rocking chair that will transition from indoors to outdoors without breaking a sweat, try a Franco Albini rocker. Made of rattan, these used rocking chairs feature bent, teardrop-shaped bamboo gliders and a reclined, open-weave seat. While most Albini rockers you encounter will be reproductions, the original Italian rocker’s intent translates well to these more accessible models. Use these used rocking chairs in the company of pastel-hued kilims and curly sheepskins to add a boho chic vibe to a nursery, or use one in company of an Albini ottoman for a more full-blooded Mid-Century aesthetic.

EAMES ROCKING CHAIR

While the stationary version of the Eames chair needs no introduction, some are still surprised to learn that the iconic fiberglass chair once sported wood rocking horse skids. While the first batch of these vintage rocking chairs was released in 1950, the color catalog was a bit limited, reserved to just greige, elephant hide, and parchment. In the following years, the color catalog blossomed to include colors like seafoam and lemon, but the chair was still discontinued in 1968, save the few lucky employees of Herman Miller who were gifted one of these vintage rockers upon welcoming a baby. If that doesn’t warrant these used rocking chairs nursery status, we don’t know what does!

SAM MALOOF ROCKING CHAIR

Can a used rocking chair be a thing of beauty? Well, Sam Maloof certainly made it one. In the Mid 20th Century, the Southern California based woodworker became renowned for his exquisite, hard-carved furniture. Although he personally created more than 5,000 pieces during his lifetime, it was his rocking chairs that ultimately came to epitomize his career, gracing both the White House and the Smithsonian. But what about Sam Maloof’s used rocking chairs makes them so special exactly? We think it’s their surrealist take on a traditional rocking chair form. The chair’s gliders, which up until this point in history had always maintained perfect symmetry, are shaped like bows on a Sam Maloof rocker, and are bent slightly downwards at the ends. Add this to the rocking aspect, and this vintage rocking chair is practically a living, breathing being.

FRANK GEHRY ROCKING CHAISE

Does a used rocking chair just strike you as too precious no matter how you try to swing it? If so, consider something along the lines of a Frank Gehry rocking chaise. For one, this used rocker isn’t a chair, but a chaise, lending it an instant cool factor. Also upping its game? This vintage rocking chair isn’t made of wood, plastic, or bamboo—but corrugated cardboard. An architect by trade, Frank Gehry was seduced by cardboard in the early 1970s when he discovered that layering sheets of it in alternating directions could built its strength to industrial levels. The rocking chaise was part of a line of cardboard furniture known collectively as “Easy Edges,” and with this used rocking chair’s abstract and architectural elements, we’ll label this vintage rocking chair easy indeed.