Campaign-style furniture has been popping up a lot lately on my Pinterest feed. It probably has something to do with the IKEA Rast campaign chest hack that will never die. But these days, the trend seems to have evolved and is now less about drawers, nightstands and desks and more about chairs.
Campaign chairs were popularized during the height of the British Empire, when furniture companies were commissioned to make sturdy, portable pieces for high-ranking officers traveling on military campaigns. Designs were meant to be broken down and assembled easily, and finer details like brass and leather strapping not only denoted officers’ social standing but also added embellishment to these utilitarian chests, chairs, stools, beds and more. Today, campaign chairs run the gamut, from the more spartan antiques to safari chic reproductions (similar to the leather ones seen in the above photo from Sköna Hem) and new modern glam styles.
Clearly campaign-style chairs work in living rooms since they’re made for sitting. You could put one in an empty corner or create a little conversation area with two facing each other. Timeworn vintage leather works well as a material for these chairs, particularly when paired with sparse modern furnishings and an eclectic rug as in this room from Marie Claire Mason. Somehow it just works.
Naturally they’re a striking choice for a dining chair as well. The only thing to keep in mind is that many campaign chairs, because they’re often fully collapsible and/or handmade, can be pretty expensive. So if you’ve got a big table, that’s going to be a pricier decorative statement than, say, putting one in your bedroom or pulling one up to a desk. With campaign chairs, you don’t exactly have the cleanest lines either. The shapes are beautiful but kind of involved, so it’s best to keep the rest of the elements in your room pretty quiet, so your chairs can do the talking. For instance, in the dining area of this home featured on Vogue Australia, there isn’t a huge amount of furniture other than the table and chairs in this space and also no rug; everything is about the silhouette of the seating.
Speaking of which, campaign chairs are a pretty chic alternative to the standard rolling desk chairs you’d find at Office Depot. Of course, it helps if your setup includes a vintage painted chest with a drop-down desk top like the one here designed by Sara Gilbane. I’m getting that specific only to make the point that you can’t pair one of these with just any desk. Something thrifted or antique looking would work well, whereas a Parsons table, for example, might be weird. But never say never.
Back to the bedroom idea, why wouldn’t you try a campaign chair in your sleep space? Technically, I’m sure not sure if this chair is actually inside the above bedroom from Weekday Carnival, but it’s close enough to suggest the idea. If you want to incorporate a separate spot for reading outside of bed or even just dropping your things, they have a very unique look—even the reproductions. Something to note is they tend to be pretty wide, but they would So one would create more visual interest than a regular upholstered chair. And in a small bedroom or guest room, you’d be able to fold it up when not in use.
Companies capitalizing on the campaign trend are now making bar stool versions, too. I love the masculine yet super chic look of this wet bar area by designer Adam Hunter. These stools are a little closer to being director’s chair-shaped than campaign, but you can see where the silhouette is going in some cases: into the realm of curvy modern glam.
And, of course, campaign footstools are happening as well. Honestly, this might be the best way to get your feet wet (pun intended) with the whole trend just because they’re more affordable, easier to stow and take up less space. The campaign stool in this little seating area, featured on Elle Decor, definitely adds a fun touch to what could otherwise seem like a stuffy vignette.
Want to get the look? Here are a handful of campaign chairs (plus a couple of stools) to get you started:
- Suzanne Kasler Campaign Chair at Ballard Designs, $299
- BJÖRKSNÄS Director’s Armchair at IKEA, $98
- Safavieh SFV3501A Couture Kian Chair at The Mine, $503
- BB Design Campaign Chair at Houzz, $263
- Denim Campaign Chair at Serena & Lily, $998
- Coyote Stool at HORNE, $165
- Atelier Legend Lounge Chair at CB2, $599
- Safari Chair at Etsy, $825
- Authentic Models Campaign Folding Chair at Amazon, $297
- Bridle Leather Campaign Chair at Inviting Home, $599
- Campaign Chair at Overstock, $99
- Authentic Models Wooden Tripod Stool at Aha, $91