Restaurant chairs are as diverse as the cuisines served in the spaces they furnish. From classic, instantly recognisable icons; to down-to-earth, honest products; and daring, contemporary experiments, there is a perfect restaurant chair for every occasion.
One cannot avoid mentioning Michael Thonet’s bentwood, 1859 ‘14’, now manufactured by TON, which, owing to its economy of material, attractive, simple form and durability, has become the quintessential restaurant chair of Viennese cafés and Parisian bistros. Jaroslav Juřica’s 2011 ‘002’ by the same manufacturer simplifies this classic prototype into a contemporary version of only three constituent elements.
Tradition also inspired Maarten Baas’s ‘smoke Dining armchair’ for moooi, a highly decorative restaurant chair upholstered in black leather, its wooden body charred by fire. Philippe Starck plays with forms and unexpected materials in ‘Louis Ghost’ for Kartell, as well as in ‘Kong Chair’ for emeco. Both take on traditional forms, but the former is made from transparent polycarbonate and the latter from polished, cast aluminium.
Produced by Thonet since 1929, Marcel Breuer’s sophisticated and well-proportioned ‘S 64' is a classic, modernist, tubular steel, cantilever restaurant chair. In this innovative spirit, Charles and Ray Eames designed their 1950 ‘Eames Plastic Side Chair’, now manufactured by Vitra. This colourful restaurant chair combines an ergonomic, plastic shell seat and a myriad of interchangeable bases. Arne Jacobsen’s 1952 ‘Ant™ | 3100’ for Fritz Hansen is an iconic, three-legged, stackable restaurant chair with a distinct, moulded plywood seat.
Charlotte Perriand’s gently curving ‘517 Hombra Tokyo’ for Cassina is a stacking restaurant chair made from a single piece of moulded plywood. Similarly, Architect Jean Nouvel’s ‘400 Oxymore’ restaurant chair for FIGUEARAS is stackable too, but completely rectilinear in form. The sitter’s comfort ensured by generous, foam padding.
Verner Panton’s 1973 ‘1-2-3 | Dining Chair Standard’ is more gestural, and mounts a curved, wholly upholstered seat onto a swiveling, aluminium base. Going even further, HENRYTIMI’s 2006 ‘HT 105’ restaurant chair is an abstract, angular, monolithic sculpture. Finally, Karim Rashid returns to wood in ‘Steek’ restaurant chair for Artisan, which despite its robust construction and traditional, solid material, features a cantilevered seat with a soft spring.