Usually, in the furniture world, the word "classic" refers to something that's been in production for a long time (let's say 25 years or more), remains functional, and still seems fresh and desirable after all that time. Here's a small selection from the "outdoor furniture" category that we think fit the bill.
- Panton Chair: First designed in 1959 and finally produced in 1967, Vernor Panton's famous chair was a cantilevered, one-piece design that went through many iterations as plastics technology evolved. In the 1990s, Panton worked with Vitra to produce a more affordable polypropylene version of the chair that's waterproof and withstands the weather. Available here (among other places) for $260.
- Folding Bistro Chairs: At some point, you've doubtless seen a version of the classic French folding bistro chair at an outdoor cafe. These space-saving designs are made from powder-coated metal with slatted seats, and they're so ubiquitous that it's hard to know where and when they started. Available here for $198 a pair.
- Emeco Navy Chair: There are many myths and legends, some of them true, that surround this chair. The facts are that Emeco (the Electric Machine and Equipment Company) created the chair for the US Navy in 1944. It was meant to be a chair that could withstand abuse at sea, and today these chairs continue to be produced from 80 percent recycled aluminum. One of our favorite legends (whether true or false, we're not sure) is that Betty Grable's butt was used as a mold for the contoured seat. Available here (among other places) starting at $415.
- Swell Seating by Richard Schultz: Designed in 1966, this lounge chair continues to be manufactured by B & B Italia and continues to be copied by contemporary designers. On his website, Schultz explains, "I designed the collection in 1966 at the request of Florence Knoll, who wanted well-designed outdoor furnishings that would withstand the corrosive salt air at her home in Florida." Available here.
- Adirondack Chairs: The Adirondack Chair takes its name from the Adirondack Mountain Range in New York, where Thomas Lee designed a precursor to the style we see frequently today. Later manufactured by Henry Bunnell and a slu of other imitators, the chair has become an American classic. The traditional Adirondack chair is characterized by a slatted, angled back and seat. These chairs are available in countless places for a range of prices, from less than $50 to several hundreds of dollars. This one is $189.