THE HISTORY OF BISTRO FURNITURE
A bistro is a modest bar, tavern, or informal European-style restaurant/cafe that most likely serves wine and coffee in addition to moderately priced food. Originally a Parisian invention, bistros were born out of basement kitchens of Parisian apartments. Landlords would often earn additional income by cooking and selling large, simple, and storable meals to the paying public. If you’re lucky, your local bistro will serve home-style French cooking and slow-cooked foods. Despite offering quick bites to eat, you are more than welcome to settle in, relax, and read or chat the day away at most bistros.
The word “bistro” has quite a mysterious and contended origin. Many believe it started during the Russian occupation of Paris in 1815. Legend states that hungry and impatient Russian soldiers would demand food from the French while shouting “bystra,” which means “hurry up.” Gradually, this Russian word became the name of a place to grab a quick bite to eat or drink. Not all historians agree with this tale, however, because it took seventy years after the Russians left for the word “bistro” to officially appear in the French language. These naysayers might side with those who believe the term is related to “bistreau,” the French word for innkeeper.
Just like an actual bistro, bistro furniture has a small, unpretentious footprint. Bistro tables and chairs are meant to function in a smaller space or as seating for any patio oasis. Bistro furniture usually comes in plastic, aluminum, wood, wrought iron, or metal, and blends with any decor.
Reinventing the Chair
In 1859, Michael Thonet created chair No. 14, also known as the “bistro chair,” and referred to as the “chair of chairs.” Thonet designed the chair, in response to a demand for cafe-style chairs, with seats made of woven cane or palm that could easily drain spilt liquid. Made using the unique steam-bending process called “bentwood,” this chair’s classic design has been praised by designers and architects alike and earned Thonet a gold medal at the 1867 Paris World’s Fair.
Using only six pieces of wood, two nuts, and ten screws, No. 14 assembles and dissembles with ease. To make the wooden parts, beechwood slats were heated to 100°C, pressed into curved cast-iron molds, and dried at 70°C for 20 hours. Due to its affordable and simple design, No. 14 became one of the best-selling mass-produced chairs ever made, selling 50 million chairs between 1859 and 1930, and millions more since 1930. It’s safe to say that this chair has cradled more butts than any other chair, including the famous tuchus’s of Lenin, Picasso, and Einstein. Today, Chair No. 14, now referred to as 214, is still produced and sold by Thonet.
A Table for All
Bistro tables are small, usually round, and seat two to four people. They are most often made of metal but sometimes made of wood, and the tabletops are often made of decorative glass, embellished with a mosaic or pattern, or slated for easy drainage. Metal bistro tables are great for the outdoors because they resist the elements better than wood. Bistro tables are loved because of their size - big enough to eat on but small enough for almost any kind of space - and because they are perfect for a balcony, a porch, or as a kitchen table.
Choosing the Right Bistro Furniture
The Garden Gates offers over 25 styles of bistro furniture, including armchairs, chairs, garden benches, tables, folding tables, folding chairs, pedestal tables, and stools.
Fermob, a French outdoor furniture manufacturer, creates innovative, practical, and fun pieces that will bring any outdoor space to life. Fermob's business is the outdoors and they seek to love, protect, and respect nature in both their daily life and their production process. The authority on outdoor furniture, Fermob has beautiful and functional pieces perfect for entertaining, seating, and dining in backyards, on porches and patios, or near pools. Combine pieces from different collections and mix and match from 24 vibrant colors to create your perfect garden space. From patio tables to lounge chairs and stools, Fermob offers a sleek and stylish way to add personality to your home. Explore the many Fermob Bistro Furniture collections: 1900, Patio Bistro, Alize, Bellevie, Bistro Collection, Cargo, Castille Plus, Charivari, Costa, Craft, Dune, Ellipse, Facto, Flower, French Bistro, Kids Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Montmartre, Monceau, Opera, Origami, Petale, Plein Air, Rendez Vous, Sixties, and Surprising. With the best prices and free shipping, it's hard to say no to Fermob.
Metal, either steel or aluminum, is Fermob's main raw material and one that is part of a global recycling process. This ensures that Fermob's products are not only made from recycled materials but also recyclable themselves. Sheets and reels of steel are mechanically cut, folded, and bent, and then workers hand-craft the rest. All Fermob products are painted with powder paints that are solvent-free, UV-proof, recyclable and recycled. The paint is applied in a zero-release facility and does not affect the health of employees, consumers, or the environment. If not painted, Fermob products use recycled and sustainable outdoor technical fabric. Comfortable, tear-proof, resistant to deformities, and treated against mold and UV rays, this fabric does not retain water, is easy to clean, stays cool in the sun, and keeps colors vibrant. Anti-corrosion treatments are subjected to resistance tests, which exposes the furniture to the equivalent of 47 years of intense use. Fermob strives to create the lightest possible furniture without sacrificing durability. They optimize their energy with a new oven-drying method for metal parts that cuts consumption down 30% and by reducing their paint-curing temperature by 10°. Each Fermob item is inspected throughout the production process: first the raw materials, then the welds, the paint, the assembly, and finally, the finished product. Every product is signed by the inspector, providing a personal stamp of quality, responsibility, and pride.
The European Cafe collection by Furniture Design House is well crafted and hand forged by old-world artisans at their European factory. Furniture Designhouse products are manufactured to withstand the extremes of 24/7 use, 365 days a year. The hand-applied paint is specially formulated by the world's premier producer of powder coatings and paints. The steel frames are treated to prevent rust and then coated with a 100% polyester baked anti-UV powder and scratch resistant powder. Nearly 200 Powder Coat colors (for steel surfaces) and over 1,600 paint colors (for wood surfaces) are available. This collection is not only stylish and functional, but also very well constructed. Furniture Designhouse products are manufactured to commercial specifications, so even the lightest chairs will easily support a 350+ pound person. With an incredible number of choices to complement both elegant and sophisticated spaces, this premium quality collection will differentiate itself from the crowd. The degree of quality, attention to detail, high-end finishes, and endless customization options are unmatched anywhere else in the world and make Furniture Designhouse hard to ignore.
Furniture Designhouse offers pieces in steel, chestnut wood, and African Teak. Their distinctly designed steel frames allow for a thicker gauge of steel, providing additional strength and stability while adding minimally to weight. The steel is suitable for year round, all weather use and can easily support a 400 lb person. Steel frames are treated to prevent rust and will not peel, crack, or blister. Choose from 10 standard colors of 100% polyester baked anti-UV powder coat paint or over 200 optional colors. Chestnut Wood slats are available and suggested for outdoor use. This wood is offered in its "natural" color and sealed with protective clear coating, or choose from any of the 10 standard colors and over 1,600 paint colors for wood surfaces. African Teak is most preferred for outdoor use due to its natural resistance to moisture, decomposition, and insects, and its ability to endure various climate conditions. African Teak has a natural protective oil inside and maintains its shape even after being "worked." As it ages, African Teak will turn from creamy yellow to chocolate brown. Let it weather naturally or treat it occasionally with "Teak oil" to preserve the color and moisture.
While most bistro furniture is made from metal, Pottery Barn offers a collection of wicker bistro furniture. Framed in aluminum and wrapped in all-weather wicker, these items are super durable and salute the woven style of the original bistro chair. Prized for it's durability, beauty, and feather-light qualities, wicker has been prized since ancient times. However, Pottery Barn claims that while their collection captures the qualities of true wicker, theirs is actually made from a strong synthetic. Pottery Barn also offers French-made bistro furniture by Tolix, solidly built from rugged steel (read: heavy) and lacking some of the flair intended to be present in the bistro style. While seeming similar to Fermob or Furniture Design House, Pottery Barn products prove that you cannot substitute quality and still expect the same results.