George Terbovich had three of these chairs in his shop when I worked there. The sort of sunburst one with the oval back. I ran across one in not very good shape shortly thereafter and bought it. It’s a bit unstable. I can sit in it because I know, but it is almost like sculpture. I love it.
When I emailed my editor to determine the subject of this month’s Hunters and Gatherers column she emailed back, “vintage outdoor furniture, including wicker.” Or that is what I read. What it really said was, “vintage outdoor furniture, specifically wicker and rattan.” Sadly, by the time I went back to the email to clarify I had done a good bit of research on iron furniture and was full on obsessed about these chairs with spring steel seats.
I like things, but there are a couple of bloggers who know things. Really know things. So I emailed Aesthete’s Lament and House of Beauty and Culture. HoBaC remembered reading something about their design, but wasn’t sure quite where. Subes? No. But he was spot on that Le Corbusier used the chairs on the roof top garden of Charles de Beistegui’s Paris apartment.
And then they began to pop up everywhere.
Christopher Filley has a set with octagonal backs. Octagonal backs. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better.
I noticed them again on the set of Grey Gardens and then stumbled on a cameo appearance in the image, above, from the actual house.
Bunny Williams, again, at her pool house.
And garden. Nearly everyone agreed they were 30’s to 40’s. Internet research produced random bits here and there.
Then I emailed Soodie Beasley. As an antique appraiser she really knows things. “Only if you know – don’t do any research!” She emailed back immediately, “Victorian.” Hmmm….no, no I don’t think so. Nothing I was finding suggested they went back that far.
She did not follow instructions, naturally. Being a friend and the kind of person who would understand being obsessed with a chair, she emailed back this link. She was right, of course, 1866 at least. She showed me what it was and where to find out more.
So yesterday I settled in to the quiet and serene library at the Nelson and read about my chair. Francois A. Carre filed a U.S. patent for the garden chair in 1866. Likely designed in France, these were also produced in the U.S. Carre touted the uniqueness and superiority of the design. Iron was “hard, clumsy and inconvenient.” His chairs combined “strength and durability with neatness and convenience.” They were manufactured on both continents as Innovative Furniture from 1800 to the Present by David Hanks confirms. Extremely popular in the 20’s and manufactured through the 40’s, these later pieces are likely the ones I’m running across.
Again and again and again.
Images previously unattributed: David Hicks in David Hicks Designer by Ashley Hicks, green chair in The Way We Live with the Things We Love, Stanfford Cliff and Gilles de Chabaneix and, bottom, La Strada della Dolce Vita, Lynn von Kersting.