One used to think of wing chairs as being a very private sort of chair. As for myself, I always envisioned the brooding lord of the manor seated in front of the fire, his face half in shadow. That is, after all, the way they were usually depicted in gothic romances. Today’s winged-back chair, it seems, is of another breed entirely. They are more than willing to show up in some very public places and are, in fact, quite brazen about it.
Last spring, as I checked into a prominent downtown hotel to attend a symposium, I found myself awash in a lobby of wing chairs. There were even winged love seats for those who wanted to sit close together. While they did add an air of distinction to the wide, open area filled with urns of plants and lots of sunlight, I was somewhat taken aback. This was not my notion of how a wing chair ought to behave or to be used. Still, since I was a guest, I simply checked in and hurried to my room.
What do you suppose? Yes. There was a wing back in my hotel suite. Now, this one did actually look as if it might have a place there. It was in the sitting area and had a nice parlor-style lamp beside it. I found it an excellent seat for studying my notes and glancing through the room service menu. Still, I struggled with the idea of a wing chair being used in public spaces.
So, I pulled out my laptop and found that I had, apparently, missed the boat at least twenty or thirty years ago. It seems that chairs with wings have been making the rounds of public venues for quite some time. In addition, their public use is, in this modern era, considered perfectly acceptable behavior for a chair and, quite a tasteful display for the establishment.