The first piece of Arras furniture I found was at a trade market in Lyon. I have a passion for vintage garden furniture, so Arras immediately appealed to me, the lines, the colour and the patina were very eye-catching. Although you can find examples at sites like decorativecollective.com, it’s rare in the UK, you are more likely to see it in the flea markets of France than on sale in England. But Arras furniture is increasingly sought after here, and looks stunning in every location, as garden furniture in chic city courtyards or used as an interior centrepiece.”
The Arras style is one of the most popular choices for many who are seeking something special to adorn their gardens and patios, with a very flexible ‘outside-in’ style meaning the furniture can work just as well inside the home as outside and lends itself well to a variety of environments. An interior designer we work with, Daphne Dunn of London-based Daphne Dunn Interiors, likes the style because it’s very well made and makes a strong visual impact. She feels it’s not too feminine looking, unlike other 19th century French garden furniture, therefore it appeals to clients of hers who like a decorative look but with clean lines.
Arras furniture first emerged around 1840 when one of three companies manufacturing metal products in the town of Arras, Grassin-Baledans, began to specialise in garden furniture and started producing artistic ironwork. With welding not used at the time, all authentic Arras pieces are entirely hand forged and riveted, using ‘fer elegi’ and ‘fer plane’ or, metal tubing and flat metal. The furniture was intended for the high-end market at a time when the privileged classes were discovering the benefits of outdoor living, and the pieces, which later included all types of garden accessories, were made to the highest quality and durability.
This, coupled with their striking and distinctive appearance, made Arras incredibly fashionable and they adorned parks and public spaces throughout France during the late 19th and early 20th century. It is these very qualities which make it so collectable today, along with the charming effect of the patina formed by the many layers of paint, which would have been lovingly applied to the bare metal over the years, essentially giving beautiful pieces their own unique heritage.
Collectors trying to date a piece of Arras must, rather interestingly, look at the feet. Originally embellished with lion paws, after 1900 this changed to horse hooves, primarily to reduce production costs, but incidentally giving a smoother and sleeker design that is often more desirable. If you are looking for a specific style of Arras furniture then do contact me, I would be happy to see how we can help you find that perfect piece for your space.