Canteen chairs are slightly more modest and economical than restaurant chairs, emphasising practicality and durability. Nevertheless, the designs in this selection are anything but excellent.
One of the quintessential design classics, which enjoys unparalleled international success since its introduction and wide adoption in 19th century cafés and dining halls in Vienna, is the celebrated, bentwood ‘14 chair’, manufactured to this day by TON.
Another great innovation came about in 1926, when Mart Stam designed the first cantilever chair. One of his designs from 1931, ‘S 43 ST’ canteen chair, which features a tubular steel, cantilever frame and moulded plywood seat and backrest, is still available and made by Thonet.
Midcentury design is represented by Charles and Ray Eames’s elegant ‘Wire Chair DKR’, designed in 1951, and Verner Panton’s expressive 1959 ‘Panton Chair’ from a single piece of moulded plastic. Both are now manufactured by Vitra. Arne Jacobsen’s 1955 ‘Model 3170’ for Fritz Hansen is another quintessential design, which fuses minimalism with sensuous curves of a moulded plywood seat.
Contemporary designers continue to experiment with different materials and forms. Philippe Starck’s ‘Heritage Stacking chair’ by emeco is an all aluminium chair whose form recalls more traditional designs. Marcel Wanders’s ‘Troy’ restaurant chair for Magis, whose seat can be made from polycarbonate, polypropylene or beech plywood, adds a playful touch by featuring a decorative relief on its back.
O4i Design Studio’s, Jon Lindström’s and Henrik Kjellberg’s ‘Dent Stack’ restaurant chair for Blå Station has a gently crumpled, moulded, plywood seat, while Alejandro Zaera’s ‘Pad’ restaurant chair for Dynamobel is based on a rigorous study of human anatomy, resulting in an optimally curved, organically-shaped seat.
Another rigorous design,‘ A-chair’, designed by jehs+laub for Brunner, is a sober, stacking restaurant chair with a cast aluminium base and plywood or plastic seat shells, which can also be linked into rows or additionally equipped with armrests. Conversely, Johan Lindstén’s ‘Sport 01’ for Johanson Design is a comfortably upholstered seat, mounted on one swivelling leg, inspired by the informal atmosphere of the 1960s.