Dated to the early 1700s, but without any direct connection to its creator, rocking chairs range from simple to ornate in design—but they’re consistently built for comfort. By simply adding curved rails to the legs of a chair, a rocking chair creates movement and comfort beyond its original design.
Rockers comfort psychologically with their rocking motion reminiscent of cradles—quite possibly thoroughly inspired by them—and physically by centering one’s gravity and creating a natural, comfortable position in the seat. During the 1800s, doctors even prescribed rocking for its therapeutic benefits: to ease stress, focus the mind, work muscles and potentially reduce back pain.
The earliest examples were all wood—which made them affordable—and as leisure time increased, the chairs became more popular and more ornate. Wood spindles were turned on a lathe for greater details, painting details were added, and seats and backs were later—or consequentially—woven of wicker, rush, or cane.
For American settlers, they seemed a staple even with many chores and long days. Not surprisingly— and without entertainment in the evenings—many did handiwork such as whittling, knitting, or stitching.
As wealth, material availability, technology and worker’s skills increased, upholstered versions naturally came to the market. The curtis rocker, designed by furniture-maker Jason Lewis, takes cues from many elements of the evolution of rocking chairs—but starts where it all began with a sleek, solid wood frame.