Enter any respectable cafe or restaurant nowadays and you’re sure to find a tub chair to relax in either before embarking on your meal or when drinking your double Moccachino. Although they’re surprisingly popular, mainly because of their comfort, they’ve been around in one form or another for over 250 years. With this in mind, let’s take a brief look at how the tub chair has developed over the years.
Life before the tub chair
Before the tub chair came into being life was probably pretty uncomfortable. If you wanted a seat you’d be sitting on chairs designed to be used at the dining table and therefore weren’t all that comfortable.
18th Century France
It wasn’t until the 18th century when chair design and construction began to consider comfort. That is, if you were wealthy. Expensive upholstery was used to give added comfort to the chair. There’s no absolute record of when the tub chair was invented or who invented it, but what we do know is that one of the first tub chairs was introduced at the courts of King Louis XV of France. It’s reported that he would frequently sit on it while his subjects were made to sit on lesser comfortable chairs when he held court. Sometimes sessions could go on for hours on end and it’s understandable that it wasn’t relished by most folk.
It’s all in the name
It’s thought that the term ‘tub chair’ was coined when the chair was exported back to America in the late 18th century. In 1797 a Boston cabinet maker called George Bright started reproducing his own versions of the European chair which up until that point weren’t all that popular. At that stage an American designer by the name of Charles F Montgomery noticed them and gave them their strange name. It’s at this point that they took off. It’s thought (although not proven) that the chair was so called because the shape resembled an old fashioned bath tub. As their popularity increased they were introduced to Europe and eventually Britain.
In Victorian England the tub chair became very popular amongst the gentry and would be found in the homes of the well-to-do and in many of the Gentleman’s Clubs where the high-flyers and scholars of the day would meet and put the world to rights.
20th and 21st century
The popularity for comfortable, simplistic furniture continued into the 20th century particularly during the Art Deco period and was modernised again in the 1950’s by Italian designers who bedecked the chair in sumptuous fabrics and colours. They went out of favour somewhat in the 1970’s but by the turn of the 21st century with a renewed interest in all things retro, tub chairs have made a comeback. Nowadays they’re seen as a comfortable and practical piece of furniture that come in a wide variety of patterns, styles, and fabrics. As a result they’re made and exported all over the world.
The humble tub chair seems to keep on evolving and adapting and this is probably why it continues to be part of our cultural requirements and is set to continue for many years to come.
If you’re looking for tub chairs for your cafe, restaurant, or bistro then look no further than Cafe Solutions. We have a wide range of commercial-grade furniture including tub chairs at great prices. Either visit our website to find out more, or contact us directly on 07 3205 1616 and let us help you find the perfect furniture for your venue.