Monday, August 3, 2015

Know Your Chairs: The Tolix

One of the most classic modern chairs to come not from a designer per se, but a manufacturer is the Tolix chair, created by Xavier Pauchard in 1934. The son of a roofer and zinc worker, Pauchard introduced to France in the 1920s a way of galvanizing steel that involved dipping the material in molten zinc. This imbued a protective layer onto the steel which made it highly durable and resistant to rust and wear and tear from the elements. He expanded his sheet metal business to include household goods, and then in 1927 he trademarked the name Tolix and added a line of chairs and stools.

Xavier Pauchard

Because the metal was so hearty and able to withstand sun, rain, and temperatures, Tolix chairs and stools became the natural choice for French cafés and bistros. They were also stackable, allowing cafés and bistros to store the chairs much easier. The lightness made them easy to move as well.

The original A chair is the classic.

Xavier Pauchard also designed an accompanying chair with a wider back, called the AC chair (now called the Marais A chair).

And in 1956, Xavier's son Jean designed an arm chair version called the A56.

Although you can still see Tolix chairs in use at Parisian cafés as well as restaurants here in the States, we now see them in interior residentail applications. Their industrial look is a great foil for use next to chairs from other periods or made out of different materials. Remember Design Mantra #1: "Contrast brings interest." Look at the images below to see the many inspiring ways this classic chair can be paired and utilized.

Vintage Tolix chairs with some wear (and a wee bit of rust) are highly prized and can be found at auction. But Tolix still manufactures their chairs in a variety of styles and shapes...and in either plain galvanized steel of in a wonderful array of colors.
Here in the States, their major distributor is Design Within Reach.

Happy designing!

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