• Homes
  • > Blog
  • > Blog Details

Who Invented the Rocking Chair? Friendly Origins Uncovered!

The rocking chair is an iconic...

The rocking chair is an iconic piece of furniture with a history that has often been debated. 

Historians trace the origins of the rocking chair to North America during the early 18th century. 

Although it is sometimes credited to American inventor Benjamin Franklin, this claim has little concrete evidence to support it beyond his passion for these chairs.

It's more likely that the rocking chair was invented by a furniture maker or farmer of Northern provenance rather than Southern. 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding its origins, the rocking chair remains a popular and cherished piece of furniture, and its soothing motion continues to provide comfort and relaxation to people all over the world.

Origins of the Rocking Chair

Colonial America

The early history of the rocking chair can be traced back to North America during the 18th century. 

While Benjamin Franklin is sometimes credited with inventing the rocking chair, this claim has little hard evidence to support it. 

Who Invented the Rocking Chair

Rocking chairs were initially ordinary chairs with rockers attached, and their usage was primarily seen in gardens.

These early rocking chairs gained popularity in America and became a truly American invention, with various styles developing over the decades.

Influence of European Design

Although most conventional chairs were invented in England or France, rocking chairs mainly emerged from Northern American origins. 

Over time, these chairs were influenced by European design, integrating features such as wing chairs, Windsor chairs, and chaise lounges into their overall look and feel. 

Despite their American beginnings, European design elements allowed the rocking chair to evolve into a versatile and comfortable piece of furniture, appreciated and utilized all around the world.

The Windsors and Early Rocking Chairs

The rocking chair is often considered a quintessentially American piece of furniture. 

The earliest rocking chairs were most likely adaptations of conventional straight-back armless chairs, such as the Windsor, banister back, or slat back design. 

These chairs can be traced back to North America during the early 18th century, a time when Benjamin Franklin was just a child. 

As a result, it is important to note that Franklin cannot be credited with the invention of the rocking chair.

Windsor chairs, in particular, played a significant role in the development of early rocking chairs. 

The Windsor design, which originated in England, was commonly used as the basis for adding rockers to create the first rocking chairs. 

Who Invented the Rocking Chair

These adaptations featured wooden spindles and a curved seat, making them both comfortable and functional.

In the beginning, rocking chairs were mostly found in gardens and outdoor spaces, where people enjoyed the soothing motion while taking in the surrounding nature. 

Over time, they transitioned into more domestic settings and became associated with hospitals, nursing mothers, and the elderly.

These early rocking chairs were often handcrafted and quite simple in design, with the emphasis placed on functionality rather than ornate detailing. 

As rocking chairs gained popularity, they quickly became a symbol of relaxation and comfort, with the gentle rocking motion providing respite from a long day's work.

Famous Rocking Chair Innovators

Michael Thonet

Michael Thonet was a German-Austrian furniture maker who pioneered the art of bentwood furniture. 

He created iconic chairs such as the No. 14 chair, which gained worldwide acclaim for its simple yet elegant design. 

Thonet's groundbreaking bentwood technique allowed for the creation of lightweight, graceful rocking chairs. 

The bentwood method not only enhanced the aesthetic appeal of rocking chairs, but also increased their durability and affordability.

Gustav Stickley

Gustav Stickley, an American furniture designer, played a significant role in popularizing the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. 

Stickley's crafted rocking chairs showcased his dedication to simplicity, utility, and exceptional craftsmanship. 

His designs featured clean lines, solid wood construction, and an emphasis on the innate beauty of wood grain.

Stickley's innovative ideas remain influential in modern rocking chair design, inspiring generations of talented woodworkers to create timeless, functional, and elegant furniture.

Who Invented the Rocking Chair

Evolution of Modern Rocking Chairs

Eames Rocker

The Eames Rocker is a prime example of modern rocking chairs and the result of continuous innovation in design and functionality. 

Charles and Ray Eames, the legendary American designers, introduced this iconic piece in the 1950s. 

The chair fused style and comfort with a sleek, modern approach to the traditional rocking chair.

The Eames Rocker features a fiberglass or polypropylene shell for the seat, a wire base with cross-struts for stability, and maple wood rockers for a smooth rocking motion. 

This versatile design allows the chair to be used in various settings, such as living rooms, nurseries, or outdoor patios.

Sam Maloof

Another notable figure in the world of rocking chairs is Sam Maloof, a gifted woodworker and furniture craftsman. 

He created unique, handcrafted rocking chairs that catered to the individual needs and preferences of his clients. 

Maloof's designs stood out for their organic, fluid shapes and ergonomic comfort.

Maloof paid close attention to the construction and joinery of his rocking chairs, incorporating his signature sculpted armrests and a curved backrest that hugs the user's spine. 

His designs were highly sought after, making him one of the most renowned modern-day rocking chair craftsmen.

Experimenting and refining traditional forms have led to the development of truly iconic rocking chairs like the Eames Rocker and Sam Maloof's custom creations. 

These advancements have shown that the rocking chair's evolution is far from over, and modern designs will continue to reshape our perception of this comforting and timeless piece of furniture.

Cultural Significance of Rocking Chairs

The rocking chair has been an iconic piece of furniture in American culture and has played a notable role in various aspects of society throughout history.

U.S. Presidential Usage

Rocking chairs have been particularly popular among U.S. presidents. For example, President John F. Kennedy famously used a rocking chair to alleviate his chronic back pain. 

It soon became a symbol of his time in the White House and has been associated with his presidency ever since. 

Other presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, were also known for their fondness for rocking chairs and used them for relaxation and contemplation.

Rocking Chairs in Movies

Rocking chairs have made their mark in cinema, often representing comfort and nostalgia. 

For instance, the famous scene from the classic film "Gone with the Wind" features Scarlett O'Hara sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch, emphasizing the significance of family and home in the story. 

Additionally, in the 1991 movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," a rocking chair symbolizes the warmth and wisdom shared between two characters, reflecting the timeless appeal of rocking chairs in American culture.

Who Invented the Rocking Chair

Rocking Chairs in Music

The presence of rocking chairs in music highlights their role as a symbol of relaxation and peacefulness. 

In the song "Old Rockin' Chair" by Hoagy Carmichael, the lyrics convey a sense of tranquility and rest
associated with rocking chairs. 


This further underlines the symbolic nature of rocking chairs as a source of calm and reflection within the turbulence of everyday life.

By examining the various roles rocking chairs have played in the realms of presidential history, movies, and music, it is evident that these iconic pieces of furniture hold significant cultural value and continue to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and comfort in American society.


Spring Nee

Spring Nee is an outdoor furniture expert with 18 years of experience.


She has extensive experience in outdoor design, including choosing furniture materials, following trends, and adding useful elements.


As a thought leader in the outdoor furniture industry, Spring has been a regular contributor to various blogs, magazines, and design forums

Want to Know More About Our Products

View All Products Now
Have a brand?
Consult your SUNSHINE experts

Have a brand?

Consult your SUNSHINE experts