Furniture styles have evolved throughout the human history and it is apparent in the development of our seating systems from yesteryears till today. From thrones made of metal or stones with lavish decorations to the single-seater sofa or the minimalistic seating chairs we use nowadays, this furniture has truly evolved with the times. Two of the common terms that are commonly associated with furniture in general and seating, in particular, are vintage & contemporary chairs. In order to understand these types and identify them properly, let us first define the terms.


The word vintage originated from the Latin word ‘vindemia’ meaning “a yield of grapes”. So, the word itself carries a certain old world charm. Now, when we use the word ‘vintage’ in association with something, it generally depicts a particular ‘yield’ or ‘era’ which was special in some sense or the other.

Applying the same logic in the case of ‘vintage’ chairs, we can safely assume that the chair itself, or at least the styling or look, represents a particular era or period’s design. So, it doesn’t have to be old, the chair needs to belong to a category or design prevalent or unique to a certain period in the near or distant past.

Difference between Antique and Vintage Chairs

One of the common misconceptions people have is that vintage and antique furniture are similar. Well, antique furniture is generally older than a hundred years and its price is dependent upon its current condition, looks, rarity and features and even the person using it in the past in some cases. The person or dealer selling an antique chair generally vouches for its authenticity and period of origin.

Vintage chairs, on the other hand, can belong to any period between twenty and a hundred years in the past. The distinguishing feature is the make or styling that is particular to the period of its origin when such pieces were made for the first time. So, the knowledge about the period and its defining style are required in this case.


The term ‘contemporary’ is all-encompassing; it takes into account any creation of the present times. Probably the defining feature may be the clean lines of the chair, the use of modern raw materials and the popular designs of the current times. It is difficult to categorize contemporary furniture due to the huge variety of materials, styles, designs available using equally varied raw materials. This type of chair is pleasing to the eye and can blend with most types of room decors.

Difference between Modern and Contemporary Chairs

The ‘modern’ furniture movement is said to have started in the late 19th century when a deluge of alternative raw materials started replacing conventional wooden furniture with ornate designs and carvings. The popular raw materials were steel, molded plastic or plywood, which were used to create something minimalistic and stylish in its own way. So, plastic or plywood chairs took the human spine’s ‘S’ shape for more back support. You may say that modern furniture is also ‘contemporary’ as the style is very popular even today.

Thus, vintage & contemporary chairs are two distinct categories of furniture with their own set of characteristics.