Earlier this year, a client in Aberdeen contacted me about the 18 vintage Esavian stacking chairs I had available for bespoke recover. The client was opening a new cafe and wanted something with a vintage feel to them.
These chairs were originally designed for Esavian (the Educational Supply Association) by British designer James W Leonard, and they were produced around 1949. ESA produced low cost, quality furniture for schools. These particular chairs have a cast aluminium frame, with upholstered chair seats and back rests. These chairs are adult size, and were still covered in the original tatty yellow and orange vinyl when I purchased them.
The client wanted the chairs to be covered in a leather similar to the original yellow vinyl. I sourced the yellow leather, and posted out the swatches to the client. I then got asked to source and send a couple of other complementary colours too. So I sent a blue and a green colour which was available in the same leather range. The client decided that in fact he loved all three colours I had sent, so he choose to have each colour on six chairs!
This project was a lengthy one! As there were 18 chairs in total, it seemed to take forever to get them finished! But it was a project I immensely enjoyed as the transformation was beautiful. The chairs had originally come from another cafe, and were very dirty and greasy. After removing each seat and backrest, every aluminium chair frame was thoroughly and gently cleaned with a detergent degreaser, and buffed back up. Each seat pad and back rest was stripped of the old vinyl (rusty staples galore!!!) and finally recovered in the new leather, with the addition of new foam.
The original protector feet, which were inserted into the leg frames were certainly showing signs of wear – as you’d expect from something nearly 65 years old! The original feet appeared to be made from a nylon type material, so I contacted a local plastics moulding company, Markfield Plastics in Bagworth, Leicestershire about getting some replacements made. The manager, Gary, was a star and painstakingly hand-machined all 18 sets of feet – and the end results were excellent. We were then able to add the new feet to ensure there were no wobbles or nasty scrapes to the floor when used in the cafe.
The old nylon feet above
The new nylon feet above
I was so pleased to see all the chairs finally come together before they were packaged up ready for transport. What a beautiful set of bespoke cafe chairs! They look so proud, and its hard to believe these are the same dirty, worn out chairs I first started with! I can’t wait to see a picture of them in situ when the cafe opens.
Origami Garland from Origami-Est
If you are interested in vintage or retro chairs for your cafe, bar or restaurant – please contact me and I will be happy to help source and restore chairs to your own requirements.