Who would ever have guessed that the following its debut in the mid-1930s the Tolix chair would become so popular that it’s still widely used today in cafes, bars, and bistros? What was it secret and why is it still so popular? Let’s take a quick peek at the story behind this iconic piece of furniture.
The history of Tolix
The story starts in 1880 with the birth of Xavier Pauchard in Le Morvan, France, a place more renown for its wood than its steel. Yet, despite this, both Xavier’s family were a generation of zinc roofers.
In 1907 Xavier stumbled upon the idea of dipping sheet metal into molten zinc to galvanise it and protect it from corrosion and 10 years later he started up a factory producing household items from steel. Eventually, he registered his trademark symbol as Tolix, a name which is recognised globally today.
The classic Tolix chair which is hugely popular in cafes and retro establishments was designed in 1934 and was intended for outdoor use, hence the holes in the seat which were for drainage should it rain. However, cafe owners complained that the chairs didn’t stack properly and Pauchard was forced to tweak his design a little. By 1956 the Tolix chair, as we know it today, was created and with a slimmer frame, it was possible to stack the chairs 25 high, with a combined height of 2,3 metres.
They were immensely popular in French cafes and bars and were often given away by breweries in return for a bar stocking the brewery’s beer, and in addition, they were used in schools, factories, and hospitals. Its popularity was such that in 2006 it was exhibited in the Georges Pompidou Centre and in the Amsterdam Design Centre. The Tolix brand is still going strong today and is made in one of the original Tolix factories.
But why is it so popular?
This classic chair owes its popularity to a winning combination of design and function. Manufactured from a single sheet of metal it was intended to last longer than wooden furniture and be easier to maintain. Strong and durable it can be used both indoors and outside and with its timeless design, it will never go out of fashion.
While you can still track down original Tolix chairs they are likely to set you back a lot of dollars which is why At Cafe Chairs Melbourne we stock a selection of replica Tolix chairs. Manufactured in the same way as the originals, they come a wide range of funky colours from metallics to warm colours like burnt orange and red, as well as the obligatory black or white. Lightweight and stackable they make the ideal choice for any cafe or bar owner.
Why not take a look at them in our online store or visit our showroom in Brisbane to see them close-up?