When I was a child, my parents had a spindly wood rocking chair in their bedroom. It wasn’t particularly good looking, but it was definitely a favorite piece of furniture. It was there that I would be lulled to sleep on nights when I was being less cooperative to the idea of rest. And when I was a little bit older, it was the source of my imaginative adventures--my pirate ship on the high seas, my rickety bridge above the lava pits, my roller coaster tumbling to the sky.
Years passed on, and the rocking chair got less and less use. As a teenager, I would occasionally rock on it nervously whenever I had to ask my parents a seemingly difficult request--stay out late, borrow the car, extra cash....
And then I moved away, forgot about that rocking chair. I know my sisters used that chair to rock their own children during the times I came to visit, one or two of the back spindles missing, and the left arm wiggling loose like an eight-year-old’s tooth.
The rocking chair has come a long way from my childhood memories—and even more so from its humble American origins during the early 18th century. Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with inventing the rocker. They were originally used in gardens and were just ordinary wood chairs with rockers attached. During the mid-18th century, the production of wicker rocking chairs reached its peak in America. Then in 1860, Michael Thonet, a German craftsman (and still a very famous and popular name in design), created the first bentwood rocking chair.
Many variations of the rocking chair have followed, and today it is still a popular piece of furniture that comes in a wide assortment of styles to fit any room and anyone’s taste because, really, everyone needs a rocking chair. Everyone.
On one visit from New York, I returned home to find the rocking chair gone. I asked my sister about it, and she said it had finally fallen apart. Over 20 years of enjoyment had rendered the chair useless. A part of me was sad to have not been able to see it in one last time in its able-bodied prime. I know I have a photograph of it somewhere. And even if I don’t, I still have the memories of my pirate ship, my bridge, my roller coaster, my youthful sanctuary.
Rocking chairs clockwise from top right:
1. Savannah Rocker III
2. Eames Eiffel fiberglass rocker
3. Verner Panton Relaxer
4. Molded Plywood Rocker
5. Boconcept Rock Chair
6. Gaivota Rocking Chair
7. Elephant Rocking Chair
8. Vintage wrought iron & rope rocker
9. Stingray Rocking Chair
11. Rocking chair by Zheng Ruixing