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Old Scottish Craft, Orkney Island Chairs

Orkney chairs are as much about their history as their rustic comforts. In a resurgence of popularity, originals and reproductions with their eye-catching appeal and natural components are finding their way into traditional and modern spaces. Our collection includes updated versions that remain true to their notable heritage, which includes a pride in craftsmanship and new selections in solid framing. The origin of these fascinating seat designs is the Orkney Islands, which lie off Scotlandís northeast coast. For centuries, inhabitants, known as Orcadians, have tended to small tracts of land called crofts. In early days, many were quite skilled in grass weaving, which led to the first stools that would soon evolve into Orkney chairs. With time and ingenuity, backs became higher and developed side wings to protect their owners from wintry blasts in drafty homes. These harsh conditions also kept most of the islands bare of trees, which led to the use of driftwood for use as seating frames. In addition, traditional Orkney island chairs were lower to the ground, sitting on stubby posts. This was to avoid the cloud of smoke that rose from hearths in small cottages.

Among our modernized Orkney chair designs, you will still find the low seat profiles. Like their taller counterparts, their artisan weaves utilize natural fronds to create distinctive patterns, usually in dense rows. Each design takes time and skill to produce the perfect support. Instead of driftwood, our chairs are crafted mainly from Philippine mahogany, which includes a variety of hardwood species that can withstand todayís living requirements. Orkney warming chairs are generous in size so that adults can enjoy them in front of a hearth, just as they did in the 1700s. Children will also find these classic seats with shorter legs a comfortable fit.

Raising the height of Orkney chairs means they can grace dining tables and become practical seating choices in living spaces or offices. Orkney spoon chairs feature domed backs with braided edging, caned seats and exposed wood arms. Modernists will also appreciate our contemporized Orkney Isle version, which features flat arms with modular woven side panels and flared back framing.

Each Orkney chair design displays true pride in craftsmanship, just as their early makers put so much effort into each seat. While they retain a country feel, Orkney reproduction chairs are the new collectibles that will garner attention wherever they find a place.