If brown is the new black, then bistro table and chairs are the new furniture. Well, they would be, except that they have been around for almost two centuries now. Ask most people what a bistro table and chair set actually is and, chances are, they will shrug their shoulders and say they don’t know. But, really, we’ve all seen them, especially those of us who live in cities or countries that exhibit continental sophistication. Yes, you have that right. The bistro table and chairs set is that easy-looking trio of small, inauspicious dining furniture that crowds the sidewalks, providing perching, posing, or lounging space to any city’s latt? or mocha-drinking population.
Bistro in a Hurry
Bistro tables and chairs take their name from the famous and characteristically Parisian style of dining known as bistro. Bistros are cafes that sprang up everywhere around Paris towards the end of the 19th century. They served small but very tasty meals, often to soldiers who are in a hurry. This explains the name “bistro,” which comes from the Russian or Slovak derivative “Bystr?,” literally meaning “hurry.” Bistro tables and chairs were developed and patented by the Frenchman Edouard Lecler, circa 1889. He developed the original bistro tables and chairs from steel, making it suitable for outdoor dining while still being small and portable enough to be folded up or stacked away with minimum storage space needed.
You are probably familiar with the original bistro table and chair designs, where the chair’s back and seat are made of steel slats that are one to two inches wide. The small folding steel table has a round or square top. These days however, as the world becomes smaller and people become more and more obsessed with cultivating the appearance of continental sophistication, sidewalk caf?s have entered into an unprecedented phase of “uber-coolness.” In fact, it’s common culture especially among the young to take up smoking, order ridiculously expensive espressos in thimble-sized cups, and lounge around all day in a bistro table and chair set at some hip sidewalk. The good old bistro table and chairs have been sucked into the slipstream of this urbanism. No longer is the design confined to heavy steel slats. Designers use almost every imaginable material available: wood, stainless steel, plastic, aluminum, and even wrought iron. What’s more, you don’t have to go out to enjoy the style of bistro table and chairs. You can buy them from practically any outdoor furniture outlet, hardware store, or even department stores like K-mart, Walmart, or Tesco’s.
Bistro tables and chairs have come a long way from their humble beginnings as obscure little restaurant fixtures. Today, they’re more than just furniture; they’re chic accessories to the yuppy lifestyle.