By Debbie Watson
Since we introduced the Camargue Chair to our collection back in 2002, it’s become something of an OKA signature piece. Over the years, we’ve introduced new colour ways, different woods and, most recently, our new Limited Edition version with a closely woven rattan seat. With its classic, minimal design and surprisingly adaptable style, it’s little wonder that this particular chair (in all its various incarnations) has been a perennial best-seller from the very beginning...
The design for our Camargue Chair was inspired by Michael Thonet’s iconic French bistro chair (Chair No.14) from 1859: one of the best-selling chairs of all time. As well as inventing a new manufacturing technique – whereby wood was soaked then bent by steam to produce a curved shape for the back and legs – Thonet also made furniture history by creating the first mass-produced chair. Thanks to the simple design, consisting of a few wooden sections and some screws, the chairs could be shipped as separate parts then assembled later on, which greatly lowered production costs. Well-received by café, restaurant and bistro owners because it was affordable, stackable and easy to clean, Chair No. 14 is better known today as the ‘coffee shop chair’, or to give it its more distinguished title, the ‘chair of chairs’.
The versatility of our Camargue Chair lies within its ability to blend elegance with practicality. The curved top and crossed back not only look beautiful but they’re also very comfortable, and whilst the woven seat is a very smart design feature, it serves a practical purpose too, as the spaces between the weave allow for any spilled liquids to seep through (hence why this chair is a popular choice with restaurateurs and parents!).
The simple, solid wooden frame and minimal detailing allows the Camargue Chair to work in a variety of homes, from modern city apartments to traditional country cottages. Although the intrinsic Camargue design is informal, different colours and finishes can work in dramatically different settings. Dark woods, such as Bay, Birch and Walnut suit a formal dining room, whereas lighter toned woods (Burnt Oak and Weathered Oak) or pale painted finishes (Linen Grey and Painted Limestone) work in more relaxed schemes.
The Camargue Chair might be based on a French-style bistro chair but that doesn’t mean it should be restricted to the kitchen or dining room. Whilst it looks great en masse around a dining table, it should also be considered when choosing a desk or dressing table chair (just add a cushion if you require more back support), or an occasional chair in a hallway.
Our Camargue is extremely comfortable unadorned, but if you want a little bit extra we’ve made a luxurious duck feather filled seat cushion especially for it. Adding a cushion pad is a quick and easy way to update this particular style of chair: choose from our ready-made cushion covers (which feature handy tie fastenings to keep the cushion securely in place) or create a bespoke cover with your own choice of fabric to match the rest of your scheme, you can even add a skirt if you require a more traditional, formal look.
Thanks to its versatility, practicality and affordability, it seems certain that the Camargue will remain a signature piece of furniture in homes worldwide for many years to come.
Shop Camargue Chairs >