Historical Guide: Who Invented The Folding Chair?

For the curious minds wondering who invented the folding chair, there is more than one person to name. It might be a bit of a boring subject for most, but the answer turns out to be exciting and quite a bit complicated. The honor of being called the inventor of the famed folding chair, as it turns out, doesn’t fall on one person alone, nor did it fall on a group of people who worked together.

Interestingly, the honor goes to four people from various points in history whose works and projects had led to the creation of the modern folding chair known today. Read on to learn more about the interesting history of the folding chair!


What Is A Folding Chair?

For starters, a Folding chair, as the name implies, is a folding type of furniture designed to be light and portable. It folds to a smaller size, allowing it to be stored in a cart, stack, or row. Folding chairs are a space-saving seating option that serves various home and party purposes.

These chairs are affordable, cost-effective, and practical. They are also a perfect solution for any outdoor event! You can move folding chairs quickly by hand, which comes in handy for organizing seats for weddings, parties, get-togethers, meetings, and fairs.


Who Invented The Famous Folding Chair?

The credit of inventing the folding chair goes to four people (though there are a few arguments that name a few others). The individual projects of these four had contributed to the birth of the widely used and popular folding chair.


John Cram (1855)

Cram invented a chair that closely resembles the modern folding chair, arguably making him the first inventor. His design, though, is armless. His patent filing mentions another earlier patent, one of J. Middleton, though there was not much information.

Cram’s patent is believed to be the earliest patent in history that is related to folding chairs. Several countless patents of other folding chairs with various altercations, styles, and designs were filed after him.


Nathaniel Alexander (1911)

Alexander is probably the most known inventor of folding chairs. His design took after Cram’s, improving it and making it more portable and valuable. The most notable changes Alexander included in his design was that his chair was thinner, has arms, and included a book rest.

The chair’s back was explicitly designed to be used as a shelf or desk by the person seated behind. It is incredibly convenient for church use, for when the choir needs a place to rest their music sheets or when people visiting the church need a place to store their bibles or prayer books.


Philip E. G. Harrison (1931) 

Harrison can be credited for designing modern folding chairs. He created a design that features a metal frame with a fabric back and seat. It also has a pivot that allows the chair to fold.

You can probably recognize his design as the party chair. His design, however, was too complex to be mass-produced.


Fredric Arnold (1956)

Enter Arnold, who created a much simpler design of the folding chair. He used a fabric seat and an aluminum frame. His work made mass production of folding chairs possible.

Since then, the design for folding chairs did not change significantly. It is used mainly in schools, churches, and events like concerts, graduation, and weddings. Folding chairs nowadays, though, come in a more versatile style with various colors and materials.


What Are The Uses of Folding Chairs?

Nowadays, folding chairs are a somewhat regular fixture in life. They are a true champ when it comes to versatility, portability, and utility. Being around for a very long time, these chairs had done tremendously great in making people’s lives easier.

Folding chairs have several uses. As they are easy to move around, they are great for large institutions when they host big gatherings.

They also serve schools and hotels well whenever they have events or assemblies they need to prepare for. They could be used at home too, for when you require extra seating choices or planning to organize a party or small gathering.


What Are the Materials For Making Folding Chairs?

Today, folding chairs are developed and produced in various styles and types. Now, you can use several materials to construct a folding chair!



Currently, the most common material that is used on folding chairs is plastic. It is inexpensive, making it a hit for most people. Plastic folding chairs are a definite go-to for most event organizers!



Usually, metal folding chairs are made of stainless steel and look almost identical to plastic folding chairs, except that it has gauge steel tubes as frames. This material is typically long-lasting and economical. It is also stronger and sturdier, capable of supporting greater weights than plastic ones.



Padded chairs have stuffed seats made of fabric or vinyl and come in a variety of colors. These chairs are made with the comfort of the seater in mind. Though, they are mostly expensive.



These chairs are comfortable and elegant, regardless of where you use them. They are stylish and blend well with almost any interior and decor. They are, however, not as light as plastic or metal chairs.



Folding chairs has a long and exciting history. On the question about who invented the folding chair, the answer is composed of not one name but a list of talented inventors that contributed to its birth and success.

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