Luxembourg - its style is an emblem of French design – an expression of French culture in furniture form!
Initially produced for the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, the Luxembourg chair has become something of a legend in its own right.
Through summer and winter these chairs have been part of the Parisian landscape for nearly a century. Originally named SENAT, this famous chair was produced piecemeal during the 1920s by the Paris gardens' ironworks department, the SENAT chairs eventually took their place in the garden from 1923.
Freshly painted in their unique shade of green they spread quietly around the paths and ponds of the gardens. Moved between the sun and the shade, pull together for friendly gatherings or tucked away for a moment of quite solitude, they gradually became an icon of French design and a much loved element of the Parisian parks. Even though no technical drawings can be found in the national archives, the SENAT chair remains nevertheless a fine example of French craftsmanship.
Alerted to the damage sustained by the chairs due to the passage of time, the French Senate launched a call to tender in 1990. The winner was Fermob who became the official supplier of the SENAT chairs to the Luxembourg, Tuilleries and Palais-Royal gardens.
SENAT reinvented as the Luxembourg Collection
Today, Luxembourg is a fabulous collection made from aluminium whose watchwords are lightness, joie de vivre and conviviality. In 2002 Fermob asked Frédéric Sofia to reinterpret the legendary chairs and armchairs into a collection for private gardens. The result was a whole collection of furniture with the same distinctive lines and forms, combining the lightness and resistance of aluminium with the comfort of curved seat slats.
Frédéric Sofia explains his approach to the task of reinventing a classic:
"In 2001, when Bernard Reybier approached me to create a range of accessories inspired by the SENAT Chair, I went and covered the length and breadth of the Jardin du Luxembourg. I then photographed all the different models, took their measurements and sketched on paper all the seats in the garden: the chair, the bridge chair and the low armchair. It was a real pleasure. It was also an opportunity to discover their secrets of fabrication. Some chairs were very narrow, with strange steel ball feet, while others had large log-like armrests - some were higher, others wider, with slats of varying dimensions and placed at various heights. I saw design errors and an obvious lack of ergonomics. After a year of consideration, it became clear to me that, for a collection destined for private gardens, the chairs themselves needed to be redesigned and reconsidered.”
Focusing on new armrests and new curved sections for the slats, Frédéric Sofia reinvented the famous SENAT chair. A chair that is now thoroughly re-conceived; it is more welcoming and generous and no longer slices into your thighs and arms. With a new piece that acts as an interface between the seat and its front edge, the chair truly invites us to sit down. From this conviction was born the originality of a whole range of contemporary furniture. A range of furniture based on a transformation of a rustic garden chair into a designer chair and naturally prompting Bernard Reybier and Frédéric Sofia to name the new range LUXEMBOURG.
While the Luxembourg collection has gone on to conquer the world the SENAT chair is still produced by Fermob, exclusively for the French Senate. Here you can see the subtle differences between these two icons. Senat (on the left) vs Luxembourg (on the right).
(images courtesy fredricsofia.com)
Each of the Paris gardens has it's own unique colour, a colour exclusive to that particular garden. So when you awake from your afternoon nap you can recall which part of Paris you are in by the colour of the garden chairs!
But, for our gardens, we have the choice of Fermob's 24 stunning colours. To find out more about the various pieces in the Luxembourg collection, and all of the colours, visit our showroom in Parnell.
Or take a look through the collection via the links below.