At the give up of the nineteenth Century, a seismic alternate washed over the German steel industry—it was then that metallic manufacturer Mannesmann developed a innovative new manner to provide metal tubing, one which forever augmented its structural reliability. And here is where the tale of Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair begins—but earlier than venturing too far into the rich background of this iconic design, let us take a look at what introduced Breuer himself to imagine it.
Breuer changed into born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, and over the path of his life have become referred to as one of the most prominent architects and designers of the 20 th century. From 1920 to 1928, Breuer studied and taught at the Bauhaus school of layout in Weimar, Germany, launching his own architectural exercise in 1928 earlier than happening to the US in 1937 to teach at Harvard University. Once inside the U.S., Breuer and his Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius started designing stateside as nicely, which led Breuer to conceive the unique Madison Avenue Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1966) and the headquarters for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. (1963–68), retiring from the practice in 1976. While the legacies of these edifices stay on nowadays, theirs continue to be inside the shadow solid with the aid of the Wassily Chair.
The Wassily Chair
With Mannesmann’s seamless metallic tubing, new packages of the cloth have been suddenly made feasible. In the bicycle business, this manifested in robust-but-light-weight motorcycle frames and handlebars that eased the minor shock waves that roads at the time reliably introduced. And positive enough, someday, at the same time as riding his metallic-framed Adler bicycle round Dessau, Germany, Breuer glanced down and become struck now not best by means of the technical efficacy of his car, but additionally by means of the shining curves of his polished handlebars—he returned with the beginnings of what would end up the Wassily Chair (1925), named after his friend and fellow Bauhaus member Wassily Kandinsky.
As Robert McCarter writes in Phaidon’s Breuer, “[Breuer] discovered to journey it by way of taking extended tours across the city. [He] turned into inspired by using his bicycle’s electricity and lightness, the end result of its being product of tubular metallic. This apparently indestructible cloth can be bent into handlebar shapes and will without difficulty assist the load of 1 or riders; why then may want to it no longer be used for fixtures?” And so he started working designing the chair, bending steel this manner and that—a barely-there body that paved the manner for heavily produced seating that straddled aesthetics and functionality as but uncharted through the layout enterprise.
The chair itself stands as an logo of its time—new advancements inside the manufacturing of metal tubing made its design feasible (in truth, that is the first piece of fixtures that utilized the era), and a better exam of its materials will screen that the chair is made of most effective steel and the material or leather-based that comprises the seat and backrest. And but, it’s far from these substances that this supremely influential chair has sprung, with its sleek, pared-lower back, and ultra pragmatic silhouette—one which became capable of be produced at scale, in keeping with the accelerating industry of the 20 th Century. The Wassily chair sprung up inside the houses and design schemes of such Modern architects as Hans Scharoun, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Aino and Alvar Aalto, the last of which noticed the chair as both an inspiration and a provocation for his bent plywood designs that would come later that century.
The coveted chair nevertheless holds traction for layout lovers and collectors alike, having received the Museum of Modern Art Award in 1968, with roaring achievement well into the 21st Century. For those trying to get their fingers on a Wassily Chair, the design can be purchased thru Knoll International, which since 1995 has taken over the manufacturing of the long-lasting design, with a charge tag of simply over $three,000.