Long before the modern medical benefits of elevating one’s legs became known (i.e., improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, relieve discomfort, help with varicose veins and oedema, etc.), the need to ‘put one’s feet up’ – literally – was recognised and incorporated into furniture design. The idea of resting one’s feet above ground is as old as history itself. Starting from the footstools in ancient Egypt to the 18th century Turkish ottoman, to the Indian moorah, right up to the modern-day pouffe, comfort and support for the feet has been an integral part of seating furniture. And a combination of reclined seating with elevated legs remains the very definition of luxury.
One such classic design which is the epitome of laid-back comfort is the Planter’s Chair. The precise origin of the Planter’s Chair is uncertain. Different variants seem to have originated around the 18th and 19th century in the in tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Caribbean as well as the Campeche region of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (where it’s also known as the Campeche or Butaque).
The name ‘Planters' Chair’ (also ‘Plantation Chair’) is derived from its primary usage: it is believed to be invented as a low, reclined, and airy chair for the planters who owned tea and sugarcane plantations. An extremely popular and almost indispensable fixture in British colonial households, the Planter’s Chair was the perfect design for comfort and relaxation in hot, tropical climates and became symbolic of the colonial lifestyle.
This non-folding arm chair features a deep, continuous seat and long, seamless reclined back made from woven rattan or cane – ideal for allowing the much-need airflow in the hot, sultry, tropical climate. A distinct feature of this easy chair is the flat, extendable armrests that swivel out from an ornamental brass pin for each leg to be propped up on them and folded away when not in use.
Decorative details, such as carvings or turned legs, lend a traditional charm and sophistication to the form, while the use of durable tropical hardwoods like teak, rosewood and mahogany make it a long-lasting piece of furniture.
A precursor to the modern recliners, the Planter’s Chair is an interesting example of gender-specific furniture. By virtue of its design and purpose, this chair has predominantly been used by the male members of society, initially the British officers in power and later the patriarchal head of the family. Indian variants such as the charukassela (a reclining seat made of teak and canvas) or the thatha chair (grandfather’s chair) establish the fact that its use was restricted to what Sarita Sundar calls ‘men in authority in repose’ in her book From the Frugal to the Ornate: Stories of the Seat in India.
The days of the British Raj are long gone, but the Planter’s Chair remains a classic, iconic, and functional remnant of stylish colonial furniture. This luxurious and traditional piece of furniture is perfect for lovers of elegant, vintage, timeless designs that combine form and function and elevate the style and décor of any space. A Planter’s or Plantation Chair can be a versatile addition to modern-day homes and can be placed in a variety of settings, both indoor and outdoor. Here are a few ideas:
- Outdoor living space: Planter’s Chairs are traditionally outdoor furniture and look great on a porch, patio, or deck. They are ideal for relaxing and enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and nature.
- Living room: A Planter’s Chair can add a touch of tropical or coastal style to a living room. It can be paired with other seating options such as sofas or armchairs to create a cosy and inviting seating area.
- Bedroom: Placing a Plantation Chair in the bedroom can create a comfortable reading nook or a place to sit and relax before bed. They can also be used as a stylish accent piece.
Bring home our CustHum-made Planter’s Chair ‘Raj’, handcrafted in the traditional style using teakwood and natural rattan. Elegant carvings on the legs and seat as well as the extendable armrests make it the perfectly comfortable vintage easy chair or recliner for your home.