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The courting chair is one which forces proximities between two. It primes an environment for romance.

Early Examples

The first type, also known as a 'love seat', is simply a wider chair, able to accommodate two people... well, just about. Although a particular intention is implied in the name, historians argue that the makers of early examples, in the late 17th and the 18th centuries, were tailoring to sit women with large dresses and an abundance of fabric, rather than a lady and her suitor. Such an item could be produced as part of a sitting room set with a couple of matching wingback chairs and a sofa.

The Love Seat as a Transformer Chair

Cinemas have adapted adjustable handrests from the travel industry to transform two adjacent seats into such an arrangement. In aeroplanes and trains the main intention is to be able to occupy more seats at a time and use them as a makeshift bed. However, since the surface area of said seating place remains constant and is increased by space gained as a result of the absence of the armrest... young man, you must make a slightly increased effort to snuggle up close to the object of your affection. Of course, on first dates, removing the armrest should mark your intentions clearly. To diminish the blush factor, you may accompany this by casually remarking it makes it easier to share the popcorn.

Courting Chair

The second type is basically composed of two attached seats. Handrests were sadly included traditionally and the seats were made to face opposite directions. One marked difference from the first type, thus earning itself the uptight name 'courting chair' is that it allows lovers to sit close without touching. Lyall Watson argued that this type of furnitue was essentially an instrument for the introduction of pheromones, "putting a suitor's armpit within inches of his intended's nostrils." Lovely.

Contemporary Courting Chairs and Love Seats

Designs such as 'Kissing Jim' by Paperthindesign have quoted the Victorian courting chair as their inspiration. It promises to promote 'conversation, meaningful gazing, and relaxing cheek-to-cheek.' They use monobloc technology, powder coated in aluminium, for both indoor and outdoor mischief. Although such contemporary examples of the courting chair could become speed dating's best friend, to date this is not so. Perhaps, agencies have not caught up on their use since they do not own a tailor-made speed dating harem and instead must use existing bar and restaurant furniture. Of course, the purpose of courting chairs need not be as extreme as to get to know someone new in three minutes. Cafes, bars and restaurants may also use the intelligent positioning of furniture as a strategy to encourage strangers to talk to one another.

Perhaps the courting chair is at times too obvious. There are more subtle means of achieving the intended. Soft textures and lighting will relax the easily embarrased. Luxury and rich textures help make us feel special, and thus, confident and better equipped for flirtation. Inspirational art and tasteful portraits of the nude figure butters up our subconcious mind towards sensuality. As opposed to purely lustful, it stirs our intincts towards romance, fantasy and eventually seduction.

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Encyclopaedia Brittanica 'love seat' http://www.modernconvenience.com/kissingjim.html

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