Dentsply’s aptly named Classic patient chair was born decades ago but remains as eye-catching as ever thanks to its bold yet timeless design.
ANYONE WHO APPRECIATES the Mad Men era is sure to like Dentsply’s Classic CL-1. While I don’t recall an episode of the show in which Don Draper visited the dentist, you can bet this was the chair he’d have been seated in. It’s certainly rare to see midcentury-modern design cues in a piece of dental equipment, but here you have exactly that.
I’ve been a fan of this chair ever since it came out sometime in the 1960s or ’70s. That’s why I was so excited when this one finally came my way. We immediately put it on display in our dental history museum at Benco’s headquarters in Pittston, Pennsylvania. First, just look at it: It’s even cooler today than when new, and it’d make a great conversation piece in a dental office or even your rec room at home. Second, it was very well-made, right here in the USA, and virtually indestructible if maintained properly. The chair in these photos still works perfectly. Third, it offers a unique swivel feature that makes getting in and out very easy. The leg support swings out of the way so patients can sit down just as they would in a normal chair, rather than dropping into a one-piece chair. I wonder why this feature isn’t still offered today.
With its sexy, curved plywood frame, the Classic bears a strong resemblance to another iconic piece of furniture from the same era: the Herman Miller Eames lounge chair that’s still a current product. Funnily enough, Herman Miller now makes dental cabinetry, and Benco recently became its exclusive distributor. Dentsply, meanwhile, is a bigger player than ever in dental equipment, buoyed by high-tech offerings like CEREC. Though this old Classic chair is separated from today’s Dentsply Sirona equipment by half a century and an ocean (the company’s factory is now in Germany), one can draw a line directly between the old and new. The company was ahead of its time then—and is even more so now.