The folding chair has been around for centuries and in ancient times was regarded as one of the most important pieces of furniture in the house. In fact, folding chairs were a prized status symbol! Who knew? Much can be said of the history of the folding chair itself, including that the predecessors were made of intricately carved wood. But it is the metal French style of the folding chair that gains my attention at present. Indeed, a status symbol in its own right. When spotting such a chair, one cannot help but think of the outdoor cafes in Paris…ahh, Paris! This simple and alluring chair has a long standing history that has resulted in many styles and variations. French style folding chairs are indeed timeless and classic.
The French folding chair, which is also referenced as the “Castille” style from Provence in the south of France, was developed at the end of the 19th Century. Folding chairs were a common, widespread and utilitarian feature of public spaces by the end of the 19th century. The chair came into strong fashion during a need that developed to rearrange or remove seating. Oh, the portability! The model of the chair itself is described in the “Simplex” patent registered in 1889 by Mr. Edouard Lecler. Certainly a Frenchman ahead of his time. How delighted he would be today to know that these charming folding chairs have endured to be not only of significance and durable design but an asset for the terraces of the small cafes (bistros) and public gardens of France. The infamous Montmarte artist district in Paris has contributed immensely to this chairs unmistakeable Parisian mark on French garden and outdoor furniture. Oh, the Parisian painter, his easel and canvas- and that chair!
Interestingly, the original manufacturer of the French folding chair still holds the original patent today and is still the premier manufacturer of metal garden furniture in Europe. As the properties of iron and steel have changed since 1889, the techniques used by the skilled blacksmiths have remained the same. The French folding chair either had wooden or metal slat seats. The older chairs are heavier than today’s versions. Today the designs are still made from the best quality European steel and are typically enamel-coated steel and wood construction. The numerous designs available today are also offered in several striking colors (Black steel coated is certainly stunning!). However, my appreciation and attraction to the worn, vintage chair beckons to me!
Vintage French style folding chairs can still be found in antique stores, flea markets, estate sales and perhaps even a thrift store. I believe the charm of the wear of these vintage chairs make them even more lovely and alluring. The thrill of the hunt, indeed. Oh, the stories they could tell!
As my thoughts turn to the outdoors, what better addition to the garden? As in the past, the garden that is nearer to the home is considered like an architectural extension of the house. French garden furniture did not become a part of the garden until after the reign of Louis XIV. It was then that the landscaped garden became more in vogue. Although not the delicate and intricate French wire garden chair, the French folding chair has its place in the garden landscape. Not just to be reserved for the cafe terraces, this chair has a style that can be incorporated attractively in many spaces. An element of ‘shabby chic’, perhaps, if one stumbles upon a more vintage chair, but practicality with purpose and style wins every time. Simple, understated and space saving. The use of these chairs today are countless. Instant, portable seating for entertaining inside or outside the home. These chairs are so appealing that they can even be incorporated into interiors for full-time use. In style. Notable French design in every day life.
For indoors or out, day and night…the French folding chair is a casual, perfect and portable way to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Unfold this charming chair for your guests and delight in the allure and appeal of French style!