You’re probably aware that, as you hit trendy cafes and bars these days, furnishings have gone a tad bit retro – specifically, mid-century retro. These days, it seems like old school is the new school when it comes to chairs, so here are a few key pointers to know about these classics at your next jaunt.
Standard Chair (1934); Designer: Jean Prouvé
One of the most influential designers of early modern design, Prouvé – who initially trained as a metalsmith – created the classic Standard Chair using an innovative method of folding sheet metal. With an aesthetic combination of steel and wood, the design was meant to take the most stress on its back legs, reflecting Prouvé’s engineering pedigree.
Tolix Model A Chair (1934); Designer: Xavier Pauchard
An icon of industrial aesthetics, the Model A chair was crafted of sheet metal by Pauchard who was a pioneer of galvanisation in France before WWI. Thanks to their easy maintenance and rust-proofness, the different models produced were stackable, which made them useful in factories, offices, as well as cafes – where they’re commonly seen today.
Emeco 1006 [Navy Chair] (1944); Designer: Witton Dinges/Emeco
There are many reasons this chair is so popular, but its durability is its most famous one (it lasts for 150 years). Commissioned by the US Navy in WWII for use on warships, the chair was able to withstand being thrown from a 6th story window undamaged. The manufacturing process hasn’t changed since 1944.
Eames Lounge Chair Wood [LCW] (1946); Designers: Charles and Ray Eames
The LCW is a classic that’s valued for its comfort and continues to be an icon of modern design. The Eameses were pioneers in the technology for molding plywood, and the lounge chair represented their first production chair using this method. They produced 1,000 pieces before furniture manufacturer Herman Miller bought over production rights in 1949.
Eiffel Base Shell Chair (1948); Designers: Charles and Ray Eames
The fibreglass seat has been reproduced by furniture retailers everywhere, but this classic – with legs that resemble the Eiffel Tower, hence its name – was originally designed for the ‘International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design’ as a mass-produced solution for low-cost housing and small homes. The Eameses also designed several variations, which included seats with or without arms, complemented with wooden dowel legs or a rocking base.
Saarinen Executive Arm Chair (1950); Designer: Eero Saarinen
Often referred to as “that chair with the hole in the back,” the Executive was originally made of fibreglass, but was later updated to polyurethane. Developed after he created his iconic Womb chair, this was a continuation of Saarinen’s love of fluid, sculptural shapes. The legs come in either moulded bent oak or tubular steel versions.
The Egg Chair & Swan Chair (1958); Designer: Arne Jacobsen
Both the Egg Chair (a steel-framed chair which, incidentally, looks a lot like an egg on a stand) and the Swan Chair (a winged padded chair) were initially commissioned for the interior of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Germany. While the Swan is still in official production, only a handful of Eggs have ever been made.