The Most Famous 400€ Chairs

Ranked the most beautiful public park of Europe in 2022, the Luxembourg Garden would probably not be as successful without its olive green signature chairs. Now exported to different places around the world, let’s explore where they came from, and look at how these 400€ chairs became a global phenomenon. 

The Origins

The chairs as we know them first appeared in 1923, and were manufactured at the time by the Ateliers de la Ville de Paris. Painted in green and installed all around the garden, the chairs were originally named “SENAT”, in honor of the French Senate which is in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Although their design evolved over the years, the three same models still exist today : the chair, the bridge chair, and the low armchair.

Some visitors from early on still remember “la chaisière” – a lady who made people pay for using the chairs. It was only a few cents, but the more comfortable the chair was, the more you paid. The low armchairs, for example, were mostly occupied by the wealthiest, who could afford to pay more. 

The chairs quickly became an emblem of the parisian landscapes, but they faced rapid deterioration due to meteorological conditions. In 1990, the French Senate asked Fermob to produce a more long lasting version of the chairs. Pretty soon, the company supplied over 2,000 chairs for the Luxembourg Garden, the Tuileries Garden, and the Palais Royal Garden. 

The Chairs Around the World

A unique creation at first, these iconic chairs became available for purchasing in the early 2000s, when designer Frédéric Sofia modernized their appearance. Made of aluminum, they are now lighter, all while being sunproof and waterproof. Named “Luxembourg », Sofia wanted to bring the chair into everyone’s garden, steering it away from the original olive green color. Indeed, the chairs now exist in 24 different colors, whether it be bright yellow or dark blue. The collection also counts 25 furniture pieces, including tables, rocking chairs, and benches.

Sofia’s design spread around the world, exporting the famous chairs to other locations. In the United States, people can find the “Luxembourg” model in many colors at Harvard – also known as the Harvard Yard Chairs. 

The Harvard Yard Chairs

Although they are available for everyone to purchase, the aluminum chairs are more expensive than they seem. They range from 230€ for the basic lounge chair, to 460€ for the low armchair. Safe to say, we should all go take advantage of their comfort when the sunny days return !

Dinah Defrasne

Sources :

Images : 

  • Couverture : ©In the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, Phillip Capper, 26 September 2009, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
  • Article : ©Colorful chairs in Harvard Yard, Vegasjon, 3 August 2014, CC BY-SA 4.0

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