Choosing your cafe furniture is probably one of your most important decisions since your choice can make or break your business. Cafe-goers can afford to be picky since there is so much competition and while a tasty cup of coffee is important, so too is the furniture a customer has to sit on.
If a good chair design can be judged by time then Michael Thonet’s No. 18 chair has to be considered as one of Europe’s most popular chairs with a design that has remained the same for over 100 years and which is still made today in one of the existing Thonet factories in Europe.
Thonet chairs have been in existence since the 19th century with Bentwood furniture being a great example of what can be achieved through design. The very shape of it symbolises and expresses the process of manufacturing which lays behind it. The No. 18 chair, also referred to as the Viennese cafe chair, used a simple process of steaming wood in order to bend and shape it into the sinuous curves which make up Bentwood chairs.
Popular for the masses
In essence, the chair was born out of frugality. In 1876 Thonet wanted to make a chair that everyone would be able to benefit from. Technically the chair was extremely simple being made from just 6 pieces of wood which were steam-bent and secured in place with hardened resin. The chairs were quick and easy to produce, strong and durable, and easy to transport in large quantities. Instead of just the wealthy owning chairs, suddenly this chair was available to the masses. While the chair enjoyed great success, its popularity waned, particularly after the 1st and 2nd World Wars when Austria, the country of manufacture, was unable to carry on churning out the numbers they had been doing. That coupled with a trend for modern furniture saw a decline in the number of No. 18 chairs available. However, this all changed with the turn of the 21st century and in 1972 it was Lisa Minnelli who bought life back to this forgotten chair when she was seen dancing provocatively around it in the 1972 film ‘Cabaret’ during her Mein Herr routine. Suddenly the demand for all things retro, including the Viennese cafe chair went through the roof – Bentwood was back!
A modern twist
Our No. 18 steel cabaret chair puts a modern spin on the iconic chair of the 19th century, being made from steel rather than wood and finished with a powder coating to make it stronger than ever. Available in a range of gorgeous colours including black, white, yellow, forest green and red, there’s sure to be a cabaret chair to suit your venue. Lightweight and readily assembled they’re the perfect choices for cafes and with their timeless design, you won’t find them going out of fashion in six months time! Better still, we’re currently running a cabaret chair sale, but hurry because they’re flying off the shelves.