I first spotted Anna Wintour’s office chair in her 73 Questions video. It begins with Wintour perched at her desk answering rapid-fire questions. She sits in a steel paint-splattered chair at around 5:05 that’s surprisingly industrial, considering Wintour’s country-cottage interiors aesthetic.
Even though I initially spied the chair in the video, most people first caught a glimpse of it in the 2009 behind-the-scenes-at-Vogue documentary The September Issue. Then, this past Sunday, the desk chair appeared again in the business section of the New York Times, as part of a photo series that peeks inside powerful people’s offices (the photo is not online, annoyingly). The chair, originally designed by metalworker Xavier Pauchard for the French brand Tolix in 1934, has spawned countless knockoffs, and in recent years, it’s become, as Vox calls it, “the metal chair that’s in every restaurant.” Even if you know it from your local California Pizza Kitchen, the chair is a classic, and you can buy it for $251 at Design Within Reach.
The Marais is widely known as the French bistro chair (authentic ones are still manufactured by hand in the same town in Burgundy where the company was founded), but if the Tolix original is too rich for your blood, we found some good look-alikes, too.
Some Marais look-alikes
We found this very similar look-alike for half the price of the Marais A Chair.
Buying the chairs two at a time is cost-effective, especially if you want to add them to your dining room or kitchen table.
And if your décor style leans a little more vintage, check out this set in dark bronze. As an added bonus, the steel chairs are fully stackable to save space.
And if you want a more graphic look, we recommend this all-black option.
This light-pink chair offers a sweet pop of color.
We also like this on-trend mint-green set. They’re slightly distressed and would look right at home on your terrace or in your garden.
A bold (and inexpensive) cherry-red option.
However, Wintour’s chairs aren’t just plain steel. They appear to be splatter-painted, and that’s probably because they’re vintage. To get the look for yourself, we consulted with interior designer Natalie Kraiem, founder of Natalie Kraiem Interiors, for the best tips and tricks to achieve the same effect. “There are several steps to having a successful experience and results while painting furniture yourself,” she says and the first one is prep. She recommends doing the work outside your home, as the chemical smell from the paint will be strong.
She also recommends making sure that all surfaces are clean and dust-free, as any dust left on the furniture will create small bubbles once the paint dries. And of course, “the work area should be protected with disposable plastic to avoid damage, and you should wear something that you don’t mind staining.”
How to splatter-paint your chair so it looks just like Anna’s
In order to replicate Anna Wintour’s splattered chairs, Kraiem’s top recommendation is to use spray paint. “Spray paint is easier to handle and it dries out faster than other paint types,” she explains. She suggests spraying the can from a distance, about 20 inches away, and mimicking brushstroke motions while you spray. “This will distribute the splatter marks nicely, leaving it looking abstract like an art piece.”
According to Kraiem, “Another great option is to use latex paint and a medium-size brush because latex paint is very durable on furniture.” Kraiem also recommends using paint that has a satin or semigloss finish, “as that kind will dry faster than oil-based paint.” And if you need to prime the surfaces prior to painting, “make sure your primer is the same finish as the paint.”
Lastly, as a super-low-tech option “get some water bottles and fill them with paint that can be splattered all over Jackson Pollock–style.”