They’re in the corner of every wide shot of the Notre Dame, and in the background of every postcard of a Parisian cafe terrasse. But you probably don’t think of them much.
Yes, we’re talking about the iconic rattan-woven chairs that deck out every Parisian bistro or terrasse, instantly recognizable and about as Parisian as a good croissant. But have you ever wondered where they come from? Nearly every one of these chairs is manufactured by the same company, a small atelier just outside Paris called Maison Gatti, for the Italian immigrant Joseph Gatti, who founded the shop back in 1920. Made to be lightweight and durable, these chairs have stood the test of time — even if other manufacturers in the same business haven’t. Maison Gatti is the last of its kind, and has kept up the tradition of well-crafted outdoor perches that began with Haussmann’s wide boulevards in the late 19th century, which allowed cafe culture to spill onto the streets and take root there.