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Frances Elkins' classic loop chair moves outdoors

February 3, 2010 |  9:22 am

Chair_1Ever since the 2005 publication of Stephen M. Salny’s book about the work of interior designer Frances Elkins (1888-1953), there has been a flurry of reissues of her “loop” chair.

Now there’s a charming made-in-Los Angeles version created by Robert Willson and David Serrano, partners and owners of Downtown.  The heavy steel chair costs $2,200 and can be custom ordered in 200 colors of powder-coating, including the mint-green style shown here.

Other manufacturers have also issued Elkins-inspired designs, although Willson points out that Elkins didn’t use the “loop” name to describe the swoopy-backed chair. “Her design was actually based on a Dutch chair from the 18th century,” he says.

Willson says he and Serrano fell in love with the iconic armchair before Salny’s book was published and had been producing it in wood.

The idea of creating an outdoor version of the loop chair came when a set decorator told Willson he recalled seeing similar veranda chairs on the set of the Sidney Poitier film, "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?"

“The designer came into our shop, saw our [wood] loop chair and said, ‘Oh, they aren’t in metal?’ ” Wilson recalls. “That’s when a lightbulb went off, and we spent two years trying to bring one to fruition.” They worked with a local fabricator to adapt the carved wood forms into metal, making sure the scale accurately reflected the original version. The seat is made of an outdoor-friendly perforated mesh, although Willson says cushions can be added.

Despite the hefty price tag, the chairs are gaining lots of attention from Downtown’s clients, Willson says. “We have a client who wants us to make a set with a bronze finish.” Since they are made in steel, the weight of the chair ensures that “they won’t fly off of anybody’s terrace,” he adds.

Downtown, 719 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-652-7461 or www.downtown20.net.

-- Debra Prinzing

CORRECTED: A previous version of this post misspelled Robert Willson's name as Wilson.

Photo credit: Downtown