Why it's so hard to find a comfortable dining room chair

One of the keys to a memorable dining experience is good seating, which is why many restaurateurs and designers in Los Angeles turn to Amsterdam Modern for a solution. If you’ve ever dined in Beachwood Café, Gjelina or visited Ace Hotels, chances are you’ve sat in chairs that have come through the furniture purveyor’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse. 

Located in Historic Filipinotown just west of downtown Los Angeles, Amsterdam Modern began when Ellen LeComte became enamored of midcentury Dutch design.

“I stumbled into this whole business,” says LeComte, who opened her doors in 2009. “I just thought Dutch design was crazy cool and different.” Apart from chairs, the shop also carries lighting, tables and storage solutions of Dutch design.

Designers such as Cliff Fong, Barbara Bestor and Commune Design agreed. Her vintage finds now grace their projects. Ink restaurant’s Michael Voltaggio even has LeComte listed as “Chair Lady” on his phone, the supplier says with a laugh.

According to LeComte, the perfect dining chair is subjective. “Everyone is different,” she says, but every buyer considers two things: style and comfort.

“It’s mostly about style first,” says LeComte. Chairs can have a staggering variety. Do you want a metal frame? A wood or upholstered seat? Or a combination of metal, wood and leather?

Where your chair will ultimately be placed factors into your decision.

“If you’re looking for more of a fine dining experience, one would probably want an upholstered chair,” said LeComte. Amsterdam Modern supplied Ink with Friso Kramer’s Revolt and Result chairs, which it upholstered with black vinyl for the restaurant.

The style of the chair also plays a part in a diner’s mind-set. One of LeComte’s clients, a restaurant owner in the Bay Area, wanted chairs that subtly leaned back. “Chairs that lean back invite people to sit, enjoy, perhaps drink their wine,” LeComte says. 

Budget is also a consideration. According to LeComte, quality chairs can set you back $125 to $225, with $150 to $185 being fairly typical.

The final test of a chair is ultimately the human body. “It’s really best if you try it,” says LeComte. Amsterdam Modern ships chairs around the country for its customers to try, but Angelenos can just stop by their warehouse during store hours. 

LeComte’s favorite remains the Friso Kramer Revolt chair, which you can try at Ink. Introduced in 1953, the chair was an icon of Dutch style during the 1954 Milan Triennial. LeComte says that despite its industrial look, the chair is very comfortable because of its molded seat and back. Rubber mounts sandwiched between the backrest and metal frame also act like shock absorbers whenever anyone takes a seat. 

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