What is a Shield Back?

A shield back is a specific design of chair back that resembles the shape of a shield.


A shield back refers to the distinctive style and shape of the back portion of a chair that mimics the outline or form of a classical shield. This term is commonly applied to dining and occasional chairs that display a curved top and sides, which together form a graceful, shield-like silhouette. Traditionally associated with the Neoclassical and Hepplewhite styles that emerged in the late 18th century, shield back chairs are celebrated for their elegant proportions and the intricate designs often carved into the wooden frames.

The central part of the shield back may be solid wood, caned, or upholstered, offering a variety of textures and styles to suit different interior design themes. The curvilinear form not only adds an aesthetic appeal but also provides ergonomic support, making these chairs both beautiful and functional. Over time, the shield back design has been adapted and reinterpreted across various design movements, showcasing the timeless nature of this iconic shape.


Shield back chairs are commonly found in dining rooms, living rooms, and as accent chairs in bedrooms or hallways. They are a popular choice among those who appreciate classic furniture designs with a hint of historical elegance. In contemporary settings, shield back chairs can be reimagined with modern fabrics and finishes, bridging the gap between traditional and modern interior styles.


  • What historical styles are associated with shield back chairs?

    Shield back chairs are primarily associated with the Neoclassical and Hepplewhite styles from the late 18th century.

  • Can shield back chairs be used in modern interior designs?

    Yes, shield back chairs can be adapted with contemporary finishes and fabrics to fit modern interiors, making them versatile pieces for various design themes.

  • What types of materials are used in the construction of shield back chairs?

    Traditional shield back chairs are typically made of wood, but the back's central part may be solid, caned, or upholstered, offering different styling options.

Practical Application

When incorporating shield back chairs into an interior design project, consider their historical elegance and ergonomic benefits. Mixing them with contemporary elements can create an engaging contrast, while their various material options allow for customization to fit any design theme. For a refined dining room setup, pair shield back chairs with a classic wooden table. In living spaces, these chairs can serve as stylish accent pieces that add a touch of sophistication.