The main emphasis in the canteen chairs category is placed on durability and economy, and it is true that the exuberance of restaurant chairs is somewhat eschewed. However, today’s designers and manufacturers ensure that canteen chairs not only fulfil strict functional criteria, but also achieve high standards of design.
For instance, ‘14 chair’ by TON is a quintessential canteen chair which enjoys unparalleled international success ever since it was introduced and widely adopted in the 19th century coffee houses of Vienna.
In 1926, Mart Stam designed the first cantilever chair changing the world of furniture design. A later model from 1931, ‘S 43 ST’ canteen chair, with tubular steel base and moulded plywood seat and backrest, is still available and produced by Thonet.
Canteen chairs product category also contains midcentury design, represented by Charles and Ray Eames’ elegant 1951 ‘Wire Chair DKR’ and Verner Panton’s expressive, polycarbonate 1959 ‘Panton Chair’. Both are now manufactured by Vitra. Arne Jacobsen’s classic 1955 ‘Model 3170’ for Fritz Hansen fuses Nordic minimalism with sensuous curves of a moulded plywood seat.
Experiments with materials and form are continued by contemporary designers. ‘Hudson chair’, designed for emeco by Philippe Starck, is made of polished aluminium, its form inspired by tradition. ‘Troy’ canteen chair, designed by Marcel Wanders for Magis, features a contemporary seat shell that is made of polycarbonate, polypropylene or beech plywood, but adds a playful touch by featuring a decorative relief on its back.
‘Dent Stack’ restaurant chair for Blå Station, designed by O4i Design Studio, Jon Lindström and Henrik Kjellberg, has a crumpled, moulded, plywood seat, while Dynamobel’s Alejandro Zaera-designed ‘Pad’ canteen chair has an optimally curved, organically shaped seat based on a rigorous study of human anatomy.
‘A-chair’, designed by jehs+laub for Brunner, is an austere, stacking canteen chair with a cast aluminium base and plywood or plastic seat shells. It can also be linked into rows or additionally equipped with armrests. Johan Lindstén’s ‘Sport 01’ for Johanson Design, on the other hand, is a comfortably upholstered seat inspired by the informal atmosphere of the 1960, mounted on one swivelling leg.