Design News

A brief history of the Luxembourg chair

Variously known as the Senat chair and Paris garden chair, it’s as much a symbol of Paris as the Eiffel Tower

Where will I see one? Jardin du Luxembourg is its natural habitat, as is the Tuilleries and Palais-Royal gardens in Paris. But also the Amsterdam Zoo, Brooklyn Bridge Park and domestic
gardens across the world.

How will I ID it? They’re the green metal park chairs that are as synonymous with Parisian parks as little boys sailing wooden boats in fountains.

How did they come about? The first Senat chairs were created in 1923 for the Jardin du Luxembourg by the Paris parks department workshops.

What’s so great about them? If you go to Paris and haven’t strolled around a garden and taken a load off on one, some say you haven’t experienced Paris. It harks back to the flaneur, the French name for a wanderer who strolled around observing urban life.

Surely they’re not still the originals? Well, no. In 1990 time had weathered the heavy iron numbers, so the French Senate issued a tender to get some more made. French outdoor furniture manufacturer Fermob won the contract.

 In 2003 Fermob asked French designer Frederic Sofia to reinterpret the Jardin du Luxembourg chairs, which were first created in 1923. His aluminium version is a lot more comfortable to sit on. (above, the modern Luxembourg chair, $690 from Jardin)

Are they comfortable? They are now. In the early 2000s Fermob asked designer Frederic Sofia to give it an update. He replaced the iron with lightweight aluminium, made the seats and slats wider so they wouldn’t cut into your thigh as you rested from your flaneur exertions, and gave them a new name – the Luxembourg chair.

But what if I don’t like green? You’re in luck. They come in 24 colours now including frosted lemon and lagoon blue. Plus, as part of the Luxembourg range you can get a matching bar trolley.

Now you’re talking. Where can I get one? The appropriately named Jardin in Auckland has Fermob everything.

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