My two Luxembourg low armchairs sit on the balcony of my apartment, reminding me that spring is on its way. They’re ready and waiting for the first day warm enough to curl up outside with the papers and an espresso (or a glass of Sancerre), for not only do these classic aluminium chaises look decidedly chic, but with their inclined backs they are supremely comfortable. It is possible to sit upright, recline or even lounge sideways with my legs over the armrest, but my preferred pose is with the small of my back pressed firmly into the angle, feet propped on the chair opposite.
Noteworthy, too, is this chair’s classy past. It has been a fixture of the delightful Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris’s sixth arrondissement since the 1920s, when it was commissioned by the French senate, which was and still is based there. Originally named Le Sénat, it was made from steel in the ateliersof Paris, but no trace remains of the designer. It wasn’t until 1990 that the senate decided it was time to add a tweak or two to the design, something taken on by French company Fermob, which is now the official supplier of the chair to the Luxembourg, Tuileries and Palais-Royal public parks.
The resulting range of aluminium garden furniture by Frédéric Sofia is classic yet coolly contemporary, and more comfortable than the original. Sofia modified the incline, deepened the curve of the seat and broadened the armrests to come up with the Luxembourg chair (£183), armchair (£220) and my favoured low armchair (£370), which have travelled as far afield as the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Fermob’s cactus green blends beautifully against the beige stone of Paris – perfect urban camouflage – but it’s also produced in 23 other colours, including shocking pink, and there are now tables, benches and even a rocking chair (£511) in the range too. The only design issue Sofia hasn’t resolved is how to extricate oneself from his fabulously low and laid-back chair with any elegance.
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