The Chair That Went to War

Meet the Swiss knife of furniture

Creativity 4 min read Sep 25, 2019

What makes a piece of furniture great is not just in the way it looks. If it’s got some history and maybe a few bumps and bruises to show for it, now that’s character. What was going on in the maker’s mind? Why was it built this way? Why this choice of material and not that?

The Roorkee chair has a most fascinating backstory. Part of the family of campaign-style furniture, it is said to be first created in the late 1800s to serve as the official chair of the British military. At the battlefront, it was all about speed and agility; there was simply no room for bulky pieces. This chair was thus designed to be portable, built for comfort, and literally made for war. The perfect conversation piece.

There’s more: Roorkee chairs are built with brass, leather, copper, and - get this - no glue. Everything is kept together without any fixed joinery, making it lightweight (around 10 lbs or less), compact, and easy to assemble and take apart. It’s easy to imagine why it worked well for soldiers in the field. It’s practically the Swiss knife of furniture!

If you like to travel, you need this chair.

Roorkee Chair Course

Presented by Hugh Anderson.