Why every home should have a bistro set

fermob bistro set
Design Icon: the bistro setHearst Owned

The House Beautiful team pick a design classic we think you'll love forever – this time, the metal bistro set.

Who designed it?

Inventor Édouard Leclerc filed the patent for the Simplex chair, which later developed into the bistro set we know it as today. The original design was patented in 1889 for café owners who wanted lightweight, collapsible furniture that could be easily packed away at the end of the day.

Why we love it?

Renowned for its popularity in the cafés and outdoor eateries that line the banks of the Seine, the bistro set is quintessentially French. Created in the same year as the Eiffel Tower, it is reflective of the vogue for metalwork design that took place in the country throughout the 19th century. The success of the collapsible tables and chairs was immediate, and little has changed from Leclerc's original design.

Today, the set is produced in its most definitive form by outdoor furniture brand Fermob, which sells its Collection Bistro pieces individually. Stylish but so simple, the instantly recognisable tables and chairs are as dependable a choice of garden furniture as you will find, and evoke a sense of casual French cool wherever they’re placed.

Why you'll love it for ever?

A bistro set makes the ideal perch for morning coffee, a casual lunch or drinks à deux come cocktail hour, and, thanks to its trim proportions, the set works just as perfectly on a petite balcony as it does in the corner of a larger outside space.

While Fermob has made only very slight functional tweaks to the original design, it has enthusiastically expanded the range into a rainbow of colours. Now available in 23 shades, from classic Liquorice black through to uplifting Honey yellow and eye-catching Pink Praline, the bistro set has the power to brighten up even the most shaded spots of your garden.

While other brands make their own versions, Fermob's table and chairs are the best, and feature durable varnished steel and a UV-resistant lacquer to make sure they stay in tip-top condition for years to come.

What makes a design icon?

For a piece to be truly iconic to the HB editors, it needs to:

  • Have longevity and really stand the test of time.

  • Illustrate innovative design, whether from the high street or a showroom.

  • Be recognisable homeware that deserves the spotlight.

  • Serve as an object of desire – beautiful, yes, but useful, too.

  • Be a piece that is used every day by House Beautiful editors.

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