The Kicked-Back History of the Recliner

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With the world moving at warp speed every day, let’s take a pause and put our collective feet up and learn the history of the recliner. The much-maligned chair that is visible in every basement and den in every American home has a long lineage. Dads all over the country love the recliner and love chasing lazy kids out of them even more. Great leaders sit in a recliner, from the captain’s chair on the starship Enterprise to the Iron Throne. There’s never a shortage of iconic thrones and recliners. The greatest recliner, however, is parked in front of 80 inches of LED pixels in the average American home.

The First Recliners

As with most things, the history of the recliner is traced back to ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians had many drawings of kings and gods lounging and relaxing on daybeds and chaise lounges. Those two pieces of laziness are considered the godfathers of the modern recliner. In the late 18th century, there was a quantum leap in recliner technology with the invention of the dentist chair. It was adjustable and featured a moveable headrest and has not changed significantly because nobody wants to sit in one.

Europe Leads the Way

Leave it to the Continent to create something so soft, plush, and relaxing. Around 1813, one of the earliest designs for a recliner was published in an English magazine called Ackermann’s Repository of Arts. The reclining chair was a prototype for everything that was to come after. The year 1830 saw the debut of the Morris chair and the beginning of the recliner as we know it. It was a low wooden armchair with a hinged back whose angle could be changed by degrees. The reclining function was less about relaxing and more about making the chair comfortable for people of different sizes. People still didn’t view chairs as something for normal people to lounge in. They were rigid pieces of furniture meant for dining or social gatherings of a formal nature.

Definitely Not Lazy

It wasn’t until 1928 that two cousins who were certainly not lazy had a great idea. Americans Edward Knabush and Edwin Shoemaker filed a patent that trademarked the design of a simple reclining wooden bench. It was marketed as a piece of outdoor furniture and didn’t do well. They decided to upholster the chair and began marketing it in medical magazines, and the La-Z-Boy furniture dynasty was born. Dads around the country rejoiced and awaited the invention of the TV, plotting the perfect spot to place their soft chair.

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