Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Origins of your Bistro Set

Paris Bistro SetWe know a bistro as an unpretentious, relaxed French eatery, serving rustic, authentic cuisine.  A welcoming establishment where you can relax after a hearty cassoulet, share a glass of vin de pays and linger for the entire afternoon.  This wasn’t always the case…

It is thought that the word bistro is derived from the Russian ‘bystro,’ meaning quickly.  It entered the French language in 1815 during the Russian occupation of Paris.  Apparently hungry officers, in a hurry would enter establishments and abruptly yell “bystro!”

At the time, the eateries were modest, mostly developed out of the basement kitchens of apartments.  Landlords supplemented their income by allowing tenants (who also paid room and board) to open their kitchenThonet bistro chairs to the paying public.

As the idea caught hold, the bistro developed certain characteristics that are still recognisable today.  Modern bistro table and chair sets are modelled on the designs of Michael Thonet.  The world renowned furniture maker designed the ‘chair of chairs,’ in 1859.  Konsumstuhl Nr. 14, coffee shop chair number 14, was as popular today as it was in 1867, when it was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair.  See picture right.

The timeless, elegant shape of this chair is instantly recognisable.  Now known simply as ‘the bistro chair,’ it has become the archetype of modern bistro furniture.  The introduction of blast furnaces later increased the availability of wrought iron, and more elaborate designs were created.  You can see how our Paris iron patio set (shown above) has the same shape, with traditional curved wrought iron work.

Read about the classic Thonet coat stand which inspired our Classico design


7 Years of Waiting Finally Over, London 2012 Starts Today

London 2012 Olympic logoIt’s finally here!  The London 2012 Olympic Games begins tonight with a £27 million opening ceremony extravaganza, directed by Danny Boyle.  We’re all so excited.

 Here’s what we know so far:

The ceremony will be a quirky take on British life
204 competing nations will parade
10,000 performers will use 12,956 props
The stadium has been transformed into a British countryside scene
This is said to include horses, sheep, cows and a mining wheel
Themes will mark British culture from the industrial revolution to celebrating our rights to protest
It will also pay tribute to the English custom of ‘the big Saturday night out.’
It is rumoured David Beckham will kick a flaming football into the cauldron
The audience of 80,000 will include the Queen and a whole host of celebs
1 billion people are expected to watch on TV worldwide so it’s all eyes on GB

Not to be missed!

Here are just some of the comments made by those who watched the dress rehearsal earlier in the week;

Out of this world
It was jaw dropping
Amazing, I didn’t know where to look
Splendidly British and magnificently bonkers

The Jubilee celebrations were a testament to the fact that the English certainly know how to throw a good pageant.  Even the typical British weather failed to dampen our spirits.  As David Cameron said, “Let’s put our best foot forward, we’re an amazing country with fantastic things to offer. This is a great moment for us, let’s seize it.”

Let’s enjoy every minute

Cameron couldn’t have put it better; seize the moment.  We ought to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the Olympic Games here in Britain.

Invite your friends and neighbours, fire up the BBQ, get the children involved, and see history in the making this summer.  Our Classico garden sofa set is perfect for entertaining; giving you an outdoor seating area to enjoy drinks and nibbles.  Invest in a metal gazebo or pergola, so you can enjoy your garden whatever the weather.  Or how about a new wrought iron table and chairs for an elegant, after-games dinner party?

Create your own secret garden

secret gardenHave you ever dreamed of building your own private outdoor getaway in the comfort of your own home. Somewhere you could escape to after a hard days work. Creating your own secret garden is an easy task that requires a few materials, space in your garden and a bit of patience.

To start with you need to decide on what materials you will use to enclose the secret garden. For those who are more experienced in DIY, you can build a stone wall to create your enclosure. Stone walls give an attractive rustic look to the garden, but require expertise to build. The alternative to building stone walls would be to use 6ft garden trellis and fence posts. Using trellis is less permanent than a stone wall and can be put up with ease.

Once you have decided on what you will build the foundations of the enclosure with, it is then time to hit the garden centre and find the right climbing plants. Using climbing plants to cover your wall or trellis hides the enclosure to the naked eye, makinggarden sofas it appear as part of your garden fence or wall. Some great climbing plants for this job are clematis, climbing rose, honeysuckle, wisteria and Ivy. Be careful of Ivy if you are using the trellis method as Ivy can quite often break up the timber and destroy the trellis.

So now you have your enclosure and the climbers, you need to consider access to the secret garden. If you are using the stone wall method, a traditional closeboard gate works very well with a ring latch. You will also need hinges, gate posts and a gate stop. If you are using the trellis method, purchase a section of trellis 3ft wide, put it on hinges with a ring latch and you have your gate. This can work very nicely as the climbing plants will be able to cover the trellis gate and hide the entrance to your secret hideaway.

To finish off your secret garden consider the Classico Garden Sofa Collection, perfect for giving your secret garden a rustic touch. Comfortable and relaxing, your secret garden is ready to be enjoyed.

For more tips, advice and garden landscaping materials, visit

Match interior colours with a subtle metallic reflection on your new piece of furniture with hand-added patina

Ivory Metal Bed with gold Patina

Ivory with gold Patina

When you order through Metal Design Furniture, you’ll see an option to add a patina finish in gold, silver, bronze or green.  This finish will give your metal furniture a distressed, antique look and a colour tone that can reflect the colour of your existing furniture or colour scheme of your home.

Authentic patina is a tarnish that forms on the surface of metals due to aging and weathering.  Chemical processes (patination) cause compounds such as oxides or carbonates to form on the surface.  This thin layer actually acts to slow down further corrosion.

For example, green patina forms naturally on copper and bronze when it’s exposed to chlorides.  The Statue of Liberty has a copper surface and gets its green colour from natural patina.

Distressed metal furniture is highly desirable and allows you to create a wide variety of interior looks.  This includes traditional, rustic and shabby chic.

Black metal bed with silver Patina

Jet Black with silver Patina

Similarly with garden furniture and landscaping; patina furniture allows you to create English country garden, country cottage and rustic Mediterranean designs.


Our patina finishes are hand-painted for character and distinction:

Gold – antique, luxury

Silver – cool, metallic

Bronze – traditional, warm

Green – rustic, distressed


Cream white furniture with bronze Patina

Cream with bronze Patina

We also offer a choice of colours (powder-coatings) so you can match white or cream with gold or bronze patina, whilst anthracite grey and black go best with silver or green patina.  See our colour guide

You have the chance to own a truly unique piece of furniture.  Choose the colour and finish that best suits your style and it will be made to order, with hand-added detailing.