Object of Desire: France’s Tolix Indoor-outdoor Cafe Chair

France’s Tolix chairs – and chic copycats – are turning up everywhere from Pottery Barn to Parliament in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown

Credit: Tolix

The Tolix cafe chair comes in a veritable rainbow colours

Do you ever notice how an item will catch your eye, and then you see it everywhere you go?

The latest object that seems to be following me is the Tolix cafe chair (shown above), designed by Xavier Pauchard. It was first manufactured in France in 1934 and has recently been enjoying a renaissance in North America.

Tolix Cafe Chair is Everywhere

I first discovered the galvanized sheet metal chair when reading Style Files, a fabulous design blog. Here, six of the indoor-outdoor chairs, which look like they’re a vintage ochre hue, are tucked under a weighty wooden dining room table that’s backdropped with a dramatic piece of Asian art. I was hooked.

After that, the Tolix chairs just seemed to just follow me around. They’re available at Pottery Barn (you can order them online), where they’re showcased alongside a shimmering swimming pool. On a recent trip to Seattle, I spied some gunmetal grey ones at Black Bottle, a Belltown gastropub with decor as delectable as its food. Parliament Interiors in Gastown is offering up Rochelle, a Tolix doppelgänger that comes in polished steel and retails for $260. And finally, fresh off the press from HomeSense, a media kit showcasing a romantic photo spread entitled “Homespun Haute,” with patchwork quilts, felted pillows, a crocheted pouf, and, rounding out the bunch, two galvanized metal bistro chairs at a budget-friendly price of just $99 each.

More than Patio Furniture?

I know. For all intents and purposes, these lightweight, stackable chairs are just patio furniture, right? So why the fascination with their curved backs and alluring hues like sky blue, bottle green, bright white and sunshine-y yellow? Check out this image on Yikes Machine to see how a single red chair transforms this space from ho-hum to hello! Or visit Design Watcher for some examples of how these banged-up beauties bring farm to table.

And if anyone really needs an endorsement of the Tolix chair’s icon-worthy status, look no further than the doyenne of fashion, Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Eagle-eyed fans who watched The September Issue, a documentary chronicling the making of the fashion industry’s “bible,” might have spotted Wintour’s desk chair of choice: the Tolix, fashionably chic, of course, in gunmetal grey.