The Bistro Chair: 125 years old and counting!

The Bistro Chair: 125 years old and counting!

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a young man called Edouard Leclerc had an idea: to create a folding chair robust and easy to handle; this chair would grow and become what we know now as the Bistro Chair, having survived over a century and barely aged! Barbed looks back at the success story of this timeless piece…

The Simplex chair: the birth of an icon

When Edouard Leclerc registered the patent for the “Simplex” chair in 1889, he probably had little idea that 125 years later the piece of furniture would be sold worldwide, adding a splash of colour and a French touch to iconic places such as Harvard University and New York’s Times Square. In the 19th century, the success of the folding metal chair was immediate; you could find the outdoor chair in many Paris cafés and on the banks of the Seine, as the lightweight chair was easy to bring out when the weather allowed, and easy to move back inside if necessary.

19th century French metalwork

1889 was also the year another French cultural icon was created: Gustave Eiffel’s masterpiece, the Eiffel Tower, which showed to the world that French metalwork was a piece of art in itself. The Eiffel Tower and the Bistro chairs are very similar in many ways: they were constructed the same year, and they have barely changed since 1889; only a few improvements and adjustments were made to allow the famous French icons to remain up-to-date and appealing to a modern audience. The Eiffel Tower is regularly painted over, the lighting features - originally gas - have become electric, and modern health and safety regulations are now respected, however the building towering the French capital now is essentially the same as when it was first erected. Similarly, the Bistro chair still looks pretty much the same as it did 125 years ago: Fermob, who now manufacture it, have made some technical improvements such as the addition of metal slats, but in essence it has remained the same and its design is very close to the original Simplex patent.

The Bistro range

The Bistro chair is available in four different versions; the Classique one has wooden slats, the Duraflon one has high quality resin slats, the Naturel one boasts wooden slats with a coloured metal frame, and finally the Metal one is the most durable version made entirely from Galvanised steel and available in 24 colours, from Liquorice to Capucine! We can trust that Fermob will offer some more options in the future, be it a design development or a fantastic new shade - they regularly add new hues to their colour chart. However, there is more to Fermob than just their impressive choice of shades, what we love about Fermob taking hold of the manufacturing of the Bistro Chair is that they have created a whole “Bistro family”, made up of 17 outdoor articles: if you like the Bistro chair then you will love to combine it with the Bistro folding table or the Bistro High Stool. Many of Fermob’s other ranges take inspiration from the iconic Bistro design, from the sleek lines of their Dune Armchair to their Versailles style Coeur Chair. Fermob have even produced a kids version of the Bistro Chair, the Tom Pouce Chair.

Are you a Bistro Chair fan?

If you have yet to make the Bistro chair part of your garden furniture and are looking to give your garden a new look, or can’t resist it and want more then come to our Barnes showroom or visit our online Fermob shop to browse our Bistro items and many more of our fabulous outdoor products. We will also be showing the Bistro chairs with a selection of Bistro furniture at GROW London on 20th-22nd June, giving you another chance to find out more about them. If you already have one of these beauties in your garden, we’d love to see some picture so feel free to share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

6th June 2014

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