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From cafe seat to utilitarian chic

A very few designs move beyond their original, practical purpose and take on a universal appeal that means they work in almost any setting. The Converse trainer is one. Almost no-one uses them to play serious basketball any more but instead wear them in almost any other situation, from hanging around on the beach to adding an unexpected twist to a formal suit.

The Tolix chair inspired by Xavier Pauchard is surely another. Mass-produced for French bistros, its beautiful ubiquity means that it now looks equally at home as garden furniture or in your dining room (or any other room of the house or office) as colourful, comfortable seating.

The seeds of the chair were first sown in 1907 when Pauchard discovered that, by dipping steel in zinc, he could galvanise it and protect the metal from rust. Soon, a factory was successfully producing a wide range of steel household items under the Tolix brand.

It was in 1934 that the chair first appeared, complete with drainage holes for outdoor use. However, the design was fine tuned over many years, most notably to allow café owners to stack them up to 25 units high, and the final, iconic design arrived in 1956.

For many years, the chair was treated very much as a utilitarian item, often given away by French breweries to businesses that agreed to stock their beer but it gradually took on the mantle of a design icon. Today, the Tolix chair is recognised by design museums across the world, incuding MoMA in New York, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Vitra design collection in Weil am Rhein in Germany.

Pash’s high quality reproduction chair is available in a wide range of colours - black, blue, green, grey, orange, red, sage green, white and yellow. Personally, we like to mix them up in neutral settings, creating a vibrant splash of colour. But however and wherever you use it, the Tolix always adds charm and vitality.

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