The Iconic Café Chair


In 1880, Xavier Pauchard came into the world in an area of France that was green, wooded and called the ‘green heart’. As the name suggests, wood was the primary material available for construction. The Pauchards were bucking this trend, as Xavier and his father and grandfather were in fact, zinc roofers.

It was this experience and knowledge that led Pauchard to experiment with protecting metal from rusting. He achieved this by dipping it in molten zinc in 1907. A decade later, he opened his own factory, manufacturing household items using this method. He registered his trademark as ‘Tolix’ and the company is still known by this name today.

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One of his most iconic and popular creations was the Tolix Chair, that has graced cafes and bistros all over the world. This classic chair was designed in 1934 as an outdoor, all-weather solution. That is why the seat has holes in it, to allow any rain to drain away. They were the ideal choice for café and restaurant owners, except complaints came back that the chairs were unstackable. Following a design tweak, Pauchard made the design stackable and that iteration was finally released in 1956. The chairs had been made slightly slimmer, meaning 25 chairs could now be stacked, up to a height of 2.3m.

This made the chairs even more popular and were an instant hit, not just in cafés and restaurants but were often supplied to breweries, hospitals and factories.

By the end of the fifties, Pauchard’s factory had some 80 employees and were manufacturing approximately 60,000 units every year. The business remained in the hands of the Pauchard family until 2004. The iconic chair is now a part of the collection in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is also on display at the Paris Pompidou Centre, as well as the Vitra collection in Germany.

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If you love hunting for unique retro and vintage items, sourcing an original Tolix Chair can be great fun. Alternatively, if you fancy a contemporary, colourful variety, there are around 50 colours to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that perfectly suits your needs. For your own Tolix Style Chair, visit

One famous fan of the Tolix style is Sir Terence Conran. He loves the design as it represents ‘democratic excellence’. This means something that is mass-produced, accepted by all and easily available. The chair has also received an additional bit of celebrity attention when it appeared in the Spring-Summer 2011 campaign for Agent Provocateur! It is quite possible though that nobody was looking at the chair.



Written by suNCh8

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