The diversity of restaurant chairs is only matched by the variety of world’s cuisines and eateries. From classic, instantly recognisable icons to down-to-earth, honest products and daring, contemporary experiments, there is a perfect restaurant chair for every occasion.
Coincidentally, modern mass-produced chairs came to existence with Michael Thonet’s bentwood, 1859 ‘14’, now manufactured by TON. Its economy of material, attractive, sinuous form and durability, made it 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.
Maarten Baas’s ‘smoke Dining armchair’ for moooi was also inspired by tradition. This ornate restaurant chair is upholstered in black leather, its wooden body charred by fire. Philippe Starck dematerialises ‘Louis Ghost’ for Kartell by moulding the chair from transparent polycarbonate and conversely crafts the ‘Kong Chair’ for emeco from polished, cast aluminium.
Early modernist designs, such as Marcel Breuer’s sophisticated and well-proportioned ‘S 64' by Thonet, a classic, tubular steel, cantilever restaurant chair; as well as midcentury icons, such as Charles and Ray Eames’s 1950 Vitra-manufactured ‘Eames Plastic Side Chair’ that has a colourful plastic seat shell and interchangeable bases, are also included in this selection. Scandinavian classics, for instance Arne Jacobsen’s high back 1965 ‘Oxtford™’ for Fritz Hansen or Hans J. Wegner’s wooden, 1949 ‘PP501 | The Chair’ are also highly suitable as restaurant chairs.
Where Charlotte Perriand’s ‘517 Hombra Tokyo’ for Cassina is a gently curving, stacking restaurant chair made from a single piece of moulded plywood, architect Jean Nouvel’s ‘400 Oxymore’ restaurant chair for FIGUEARAS, though stackable, is completely orthogonal, down to its generous, foam padding.
‘1-2-3 | Dining Chair Standard’, designed by Verner Panton in 1973 and produced by Verpan, mounts a gestural, curved, wholly upholstered seat onto a swiveling aluminium base. Even more abstract, HENRYTIMI’s 2006 ‘MN 101’ restaurant chair by Mario Nanni Progettista is an angular composition in planes of plywood. Finally, Karim Rashid’s ‘Steek’ restaurant chair for Artisan, features a robust wooden construction, but luckily for the sitter, it comes with a cantilevered, softly springing seat.