'Tolix' chairs are a rare find

Photo provided | An original Tolix Chair is a rare and valuable find.

INDIANAPOLIS – "A chair's function is not just to provide a place to sit, it is a medium for self-expression." – Evan Davis

In the Victorian era of the late 1880s, the elegance of a platform rocker graced the homes of the affluent. As we crossed over into the early part of the 1900s, most every farm house had a set of press-backed oak chairs around the kitchen table, and in mid-20th Century America the streamline designs of Eero Saarinen set the standard for MCM home furnishings with the Tulip Chair.

Through the years styles change, but one thing has remained consistent: If you are furnishing your home you will inevitably need to go chair shopping!

As we look to the top trends in decorating of 2019 we see a growing appreciation for "industrial" furnishings, and with this trend a resurgence in the popularity of the Tolix Chair.

At the age of 27, Frenchman Xavier Pauchard was working with his father and grandfather installing zinc roofs in Le Morvan, France, but he was discontented. Ever curious and prone to experimentation, he stumbled up on a system for protecting sheet metal from rusting by dipping it in molten zinc, a process we now refer to as galvanizing. In 1927, he left the family business to open a small factory on the outskirts of Autun in Burgundy which operated under the registered trademark Tolix.

Tolix specialized in the manufacture of steel household and commercial goods, including a line of furniture. In 1934, they released their "Tolix Chair." This tall-back galvanized steel chair designed for outdoor use featured holes in the seat to allow for drainage and was light weight and meant to be stackable.

Large numbers of the chairs were sold to the sidewalk cafes around Paris, but within the first five years of production Pauchard had almost as many chairs returned as he he sold, nearly causing the closure of his factory. The problem was simple, the "stackable" chairs would not stack!

Tolix recalled the chairs and went to work to correct the fatal design flaw. After several years of redesigns the factory released a slimmer version of the Tolix Chair (also known as the Marais A Chair) with the guarantee that they could be stacked 25 high! The response to the revamped chair was immediate as orders from hospitals, offices and restaurants around the world poured in.

Upon the death of Xavier Pauchard in 1948, his sons, Jean and Andre, took over Trolix. After four years, they divided the company with Jean taking over the furniture line. Following in his father's footsteps he expanded the line with three new highly successful pieces.

In 1955, he designed the Tolix Table to go with his father's famous chairs. The next year he added the Tolix Stool to the line. His original intent was for it to be used in factories and public parks, which they were. However, it also caught the eye of pub and tavern owners in both Europe and the United States. Liquor company distributors often used it as an enticement for bar owners to buy their product and sales held strong through the 1970s.

The second addition in 1956 was the A56 Arm Chair modeled after the Tolix Chaise designed many years earlier by Xavier Pauchard. Over the past 60 years, the A56 has come to be recognized as one of the most influential pieces of metal furniture of the 20th Century.

Finding an original Trolix design can be difficult and expensive. If you want the look without the high cost there are several companies online offering quality reproduction. Check out Modern Source and Wayfair.

Until next time, Linda

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Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in downsizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.