Furniture Focus: Safari Chair
words by Graeme du Plessis
The leather Safari Chair is a design piece with a minimal and functional aesthetic. Danish designer Kaare Klint created the original version in the early 1930s and was greatly influenced by the furniture used by the British military on their international campaigns. He had witnessed how the pieces were created, assembled and used on his many international travels, and was inspired by their practicality.
Campaign furniture was designed to be light and easy to transport so lightweight materials were used and it can be taken apart and reassembled with few tools. Over time the style has evolved and while the functional and simplistic design remains, packability became less essential and the need for comfort took its place. Nowadays manufacturers may produce leather safari chair replicas or repurposed versions with canvas.
It is widely considered one of the most important chair styles in furniture design - the shape is simple but it has impacted the fundamental design of contemporary chairs. Whether the flat-pack functionality of Ikea furniture, or the way in which the back of the chair leans to accustom the sitter’s posture, elements of this version are nowadays seen in almost every chair. It’s amazing how the safari chair adapts to the the person in the chair, their weight adjusting the shape of the leather (or in some variations canvas) seat and backrest, making it very comfortable.
The original, as we used in our Monochrome House project, is made from lighter wood and leather, making it the perfect addition to bright interiors or in farmhouse-style spaces. Leather suspended between the uprights and crossbars is used for the arms, the seat and the adjustable back of the chair. Lines are clean and simple, the shape is straightforward and utilitarian. It complements the neutral colour palette in our project, but also sits well with more modern design pieces, where natural textures especially wood, are the primary material.
For advice on sourcing an original safari chair, or for the best place to find a reproduction or replica of any vintage furniture piece, stay tuned for our blogpost on sourcing antique furniture. And if you can’t wait - get in touch with us via email!