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Tools of the Trade: Chair Reaction

Tools of the Trade: Chair Reaction

According to one event designer, the way to make guests comfortable is to give them a little food and water every once in a while and a comfortable place to sit down. Today's chairs combine durability, function and form, not to mention a nice place for party-goers to perch.


From a new twist on the romantic look of a chiavari to the high-tech look of metal, elegant styles are sliding into event seating.

Regal International of Santa Ana, Calif., has taken a traditional chiavari chair and given it a colorful twist, painting it with duotone finishes such as Tuscan — a rustic white with gold brush strokes — and copper patina, with copper and green. “These chairs have been painted with a layered effect,” says Teri Rudin, product development and design consultant with Regal, “so if they're damaged, the damage doesn't show.”

Bringing versatility to event seating is another of Regal's products, the Chameleon chair. With four different removable backs, the chair offers myriad looks.

Alan Robbins, director of U.S. sales for Atlanta-based Sandler Seating, notes a demand for chairs that combine wood and metal, adding that event planners on the East Coast tend to prefer darker wood finishes, while West Coast planners prefer lighter. “Dark stains have progressed over from the European design houses and the East Coast has promoted them first,” he says. “The West Coast is still into the natural-finish look. It will grow across the country.”

“Cherry is a more traditional look, [and] for more casual seating, oak finishes” are popular, notes Eric Niermeyer, vice president of Stakmore Co. of Owego, N.Y.

“There is a movement toward the natural … stain finishes,” says Bill Kestell, president of Kestell Furniture. His New Holstein, Wis.-based company offers its folding chairs in raw wood or in a black or white primer coat if a customer prefers a custom color.


Durability and easy handling are requisite elements of any quality chair.

Diego Discacciati of East Brunswick, N.J.-based Drake Corp. reports that Drake's white folding chairs continue to be popular and don't need painting — just washing. “Easy handling is part of the design they have been conceived with.”

There has been a “definite trend towards maintenance-free white chairs,” agrees Thea Hempel, marketing manager for Brookfield, Wis.-based Palmer Snyder. Palmer Snyder's classic white wedding chair can be cleaned in all standard chair washers, she says.

Discacciati says: “Handle [our chairs] in the proper way and they are going to last almost forever. [The] long time between reorders is our problem more than our customers'.”


Cindy Gasser of Gasser Chairs says she recently spoke with a longtime customer who bought banquet chairs from the Youngstown, Ohio-based company 20 years ago. He told her that when he bought the chairs, they instantly improved the overall appearance of his banquet facility. “As a result, he was able to increase his prices and upgrade his facility,” she says.

Resources: Drake Corp., 732/254-1530; Gasser Chair, 800/323-2234, 330/759-2234; Kestell Furniture, 800/379-4253, 920/898-4251; Palmer Snyder, 262/780-8780; Regal International, 800/45-REGAL (457-3425), 714/424-6320; Sandler Seating, 404/982-9000; Stakmore Co., 607/687-1616

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