Design Lesson

The X factor

The X-frame stool or chair, which is known to have existed in ancient Egypt as long ago as 1500 b.c., is one of the oldest forms of furniture—but not the humblest. There was one in King Tut's tomb, and in a painting from a Greek kylix, 470 b.c., it's a seat with niftily crossed lion legs fit for a god—Apollo, to be precise. We also know that the Athenian slaves followed their masters, "bearing folding chairs for them, in order that, if they wished to sit down, they should not be without some proper seat." Not so different from the way movie stars are treated on set today. In Rome, the emperor's stool was made of gold and, in the case of Julius Caesar, studded with precious stones so he'd feel even more divine. The aristocratic X-form has never gone out of vogue—its later fans have included Louis XV, Napoleon, the Pope, and the British royal family. So if you want to live like a god or a general, a king or a pontiff, consider one of the X-frame stool's stylish modern variants.


What follows are five variations on the classic cross-leg theme:

LOUIS XV-STYLE CARVED GILT WOOD STOOL $7,500, Quatrain; 310-652-0243;

OAK X-CHAIR $1,885, McGuire; 800-662-4847;

FRA.X TABLE $2,697, by Robert Barbieri for B&B Italia; 800-872-1697;

PAVILION OTTOMAN $1,195, by Mies van der Rohe from Design Within Reach; 800-944-2233;

BASKETWEAVE LUGGAGE RACK $1,625, Shannon & Jeal; 415-563-2727;