A portable, lightweight solution for home or outdoor seating, the director’s chair is famous for being mightier than its size, both as a status symbol and as a weight-bearing seat. It’s been decades since filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille roamed the Hollywood studios, his chair boy always two steps behind him. But directors chairs still retain the iconic status that DeMille and other golden-age filmmakers gave them – though today, they’re more likely to be seating producers, actors, artists, or just at-home toast makers yelling “Cut!” while slicing bread at the kitchen’s breakfast bar. For deck and balcony seating, tailgating, sporting events, teaching, and sometimes even filmmaking, the director will always be the chair in charge.
The Chair That’s Always There
In his book Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood, author Robert Birchard explained how the director’s chair became a familiar symbol of ultimate creative control. “The legend was that DeMille never looked to see if his chair was at hand, he merely sat – and the chair had better be there!”
From the backlots of 1940s Hollywood to today’s home patios, studios, and outdoor events, directors chairs have made it easy to take a seat wherever one may go – even without a chair boy to shadow you from one place to another. Enhanced with stronger materials and durable outdoor fabrics and finishes (and more up-to-date styles, of course), contemporary directors chairs offer casual seating that not only looks great, but also provides heavy-duty support, with a carrying weight-to-seating capacity ratio that exceeds most other chair designs.
Your frame and fabric choices will determine the style, strength, comfort, and durability of your director’s chair. Here are the pros and cons of the most popular material options.
The classic frame material, and still the most popular by far, wood is a safe choice for most any application or decor. The best wood directors chairs are crafted from solid hardwoods such as oak, American beech, and other kiln-dried woods. But this category also includes less traditional options such as Vietnamese bamboo, which brings a South Seas coastal look to patios and decks.
For best outdoor performance, look for wood frames finished in marine spar varnish, which is specially formulated for long-lasting UV protection and greater flexibility (meaning it’s less likely to crack as the wood expands and contracts in response to weather). The only downside to wood? It’s not quite as strong as aluminum. But it will provide a carrying-to-capacity ratio ranging from 18:250 up to 14:300 (i.e. a 14-pound carrying weight with a 300-pound seating limit).
For strong, durable, and affordable outdoor seating, aluminum is your best option. Aluminum is naturally rust-resistant, and an unbeatable material for lightweight strength. For example, the Finley Home aluminum directors chairs at hayneedle.com weigh just 9 pounds, but can hold up to 396 pounds, thanks to their double crisscross frames.
Most cover fabrics will provide durable performance in indoor settings, though heavy-gauge canvas is the preferred choice for most applications. Duck canvas – named for doek, the Dutch word for cloth, not the quacking bird – is particularly strong, and is used on some of the highest-quality directors chairs at hayneedle.com, such as our top-rated designs from Telescope Casual (for extra comfort, check out our Telescope padded director chair covers, designed for use with round stick guides).
In outdoor settings, heavy-weave mesh offers breathability and fade-resistance, but Sunbrella remains the unrivaled leader for bright color, UV-resistant durability, and comfortable, indoor-quality style.
Sit High or Low Wherever You Go
Lightweight strength and go-anywhere versatility may be its biggest benefits, but a director-style chair also gives you the convenient option of a high, low, or standard-height seat. Here’s a quick guide to the different height categories at hayneedle.com (remember: these measurements refer to the height of the seat, not the seat back).
Comparable to a standard dining chair, standard height directors chairs typically measure 17 to 18 inches in height.
Counter-height directors chairs are a step up in size, with seat heights measuring around 24 inches.
If you need a tall director’s chair, our selection of bar-height directors chairs is the place to look. These seat heights include 29, 29.5, 30, and 30.5-inch options.
Extra Features for Demanding Directors
- Reserve your seat with a personalized director’s chair, which offers up to 18-character personalization on the seat back.
- Let little ones play a starring role with our pint-sized kids directors chairs in a fun array of colors.
- Sports-themed directors chairs are great for home bars or tailgating; our selection includes NCAA, NFL, MLB, and NHL logos.
- Chairs with a storage pouch and/or side table are ideal for event attendance and long days outdoors.
Whether you’re ready to settle back and bring on the comfort or cheer on your favorite team, directors chairs offer the perfect perch for your daily productions – and are ever-ready for the next day’s sequel.