The Adirondack chair is an iconic piece of outdoor furniture designed in the early 20th century by American Thomas Lee in Westport, New York. Despite its more than 100 years of history, the time has not managed to fall into oblivion, rather the opposite. Each day that passes becomes more popular and, in addition to having that vintage air that is so popular today, it is a really comfortable chair.
It seems that Thomas Lee wanted a very comfortable armchair for the garden of his cottage in Westport, on the shores of Lake Champlain. From there you could contemplate beautiful views of the water and, in the background, a perfect panorama of the mountainous region of Adirondack. They say, not finding a chair that would convince him, Lee decided to build it himself and created several prototypes made with a few wooden slats he obtained from a tree on his estate. His own family was in charge of trying them all and choosing the best one. They were simple designs, made with planks and quite similar. But there was one with a gentle inclination of the backrest and wide armrests which was especially comfortable to rest and relax before those wonderful views. He had finally got his desired garden chair and named it in honor of the mountains he would contemplate sitting on it.
Lee liked to hunt and used to date a local carpenter named Harry Bunnell who was joined by a certain friendship. Lee showed Bunnell the chair and encouraged him to make it for the locals. Bunnell found the idea very interesting and got to work. That piece of furniture became a success among the neighbors, and Bunnell, without commenting with Lee, applied for the design patent. The carpenter called it Westport Chair, and, for several decades, he sold them very profitably. Lee never received any of the profits from Bunnell’s successful business decision, although there is no evidence that he wanted them. The truth is that there are people who like to argue on the subject and say that Bunnell “stole” Lee’s design.
During its more than 110 years of history, the chair has undergone many transformations. In the original, the backrest was in one piece, but nowadays they are usually made with several slats getting some curvature. The most faithful to the original concept is made of wood, but there are variations made with other materials. The ones that I have in my garden ( for many years ) are made of resin. They may not be so pretty, but they are much more economical and durable.
Despite the many adaptations they have endured, Adirondack chairs are unmistakable and very popular. In North America, they are all the rage, and every day they are used more in Europe. Their success does not have much mystery: they are simple, comfortable and unpretentious garden chairs. At the time they were created, typical Victorian wicker or wrought iron garden furniture was no longer functional or consistent with the aesthetics of the moment. With the Craftsman movement (the American equivalent of English Arts & Crafts) in full swing, people preferred solid wood, handcrafted and hand-carved furniture.
Nowadays, these chairs are an emblem of summer leisure and evocative of the warm summer breeze. From my own experience I can assure you that whether you have a garden with views, or not, these armchairs will provide you with a lot of comfort and rest.
There are many varieties of this type of chairs: different colors, varied materials, and different shapes, although all of them with a common base. There are even small ones, for children, or in rocking format. They are very comfortable, as much as a sunbed or more, but if you are one of those who like to have your legs up, there are also specific footrests. In the same Amazon, you can find countless models, but I leave here a brief selection with the ones we liked the most.