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The Iconic Wassily Chair: A Modern Design

The Iconic Wassily Chair: A Modern Design Classic

The chair model B3, commonly known as the Wassily chair, is   arguably one of the most famous designs by Marcel Breuer – the legendary   modernist and an icon of architecture and design of the 20th century who   abandoned the idea of ??decorative, bourgeois forms in favor of elegant   Simplicity.  Breuer was still an   apprentice at the Bauhaus when he designed the chair model B3, which would   change the world of furniture forever.

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The origins of the Wassily chair can be traced back to the   beginning of the modern movement.    Contrary to the historical trend of incorporating the past into   furniture design, this era was defined by the idea of ??creating timeless,   universal objects that withstand the passage of time.  This belief led to simpler, cleaner designs   that were less likely to become obsolete.    The concept of the simplified design was later developed by the   Bauhaus, with which Breuer was closely associated.  The main principle of the Bauhaus was to   make everyday mass products beautiful and yet practical and still make them   accessible to ordinary people.    Breuer’s commitment to this famous German art school began at the age   of 18.  He was one of the first and   youngest students in the school’s history.    His talent was quickly recognized and soon afterwards he became head   of the carpentry shop, where he conceived a variety of iconic furniture   designs.

The chair model B3 was first presented in 1925.  Its unusual shape was enthusiastically   received by the Bauhaus and only one year later the entire facility was   equipped with this modernist furniture.    The chair went into mass production in the late 1920s and was   originally manufactured by Thonet, the German-Austrian furniture company best   known for its curved wooden chair designs, under the name “Model   B3”.  Production stopped in World   War II.  After the war years, Gavina,   the Italian furniture company, accepted the license for the chair and named   it after the non-objective painter and a colleague of Breuer at the Bauhaus,   Wassily Kadinsky.  The Wassily Chair is   currently available under the Knoll brand.


The Wassily Chair is undoubtedly one of the symbols of modernism   in the 20th century and will set a new standard in furniture design in the   coming decades.  The design has been   reduced to the essentials, which makes the shape of the chair very minimalist   and pure.  The chair is said to be the   first curved tubular steel furniture design.    Its distinctive frame was inspired by the curvy handlebars of the   Adler bicycle.  The story behind the   chair design was revealed by Breuer in an interview with a Knoll historian,   where he said: “I was pretty idealistic at the time, 23 years old.  I made friends with a young architect and   bought my first bike.  I learned to   ride a bike and talked to this young man and told him that the bike seems to   be a perfect production because it hasn’t changed in the last twenty or   thirty years.  It’s still the original   bike shape.  He said, “Have you ever   seen them make these parts?  How do you   bend this handlebar?  They’d be   interested because they bend those steel tubes like macaroni.  ‘That kind of stuck in my mind and I   started thinking about steel tubes bent into frames – probably this is the   material you could use for an elastic and transparent chair.  Usually I was very busy with the   transparency of the form.  This is how   the first chair was made … I realized the bending had to go further.  It should only be bent without welding   points so that it can also be chrome-plated and put together in parts.  So the first Wassily was born.  “

Indeed, the shape of the Wassily chair is known for its   transparency.  This is due to the   characteristic chrome-plated frame made of curved steel tubes that are   connected with screws.  Thick leather   loops made of cowhide, which are stretched over the frame, form the seat of   the chair, which can maintain its crisp tension for decades.  Customers can choose between three types of   leather: Spinneybeck® Belting Leather in 27 colors with matching colored   edges;  white, beige and light brown   Spinneybeck® thick cowhide and 8 options from Spinneybeck® Haired   Hide.

Every Wassily chair has the KnollStudio logo and the signature of   the designer engraved on the base.

The overall look of the chair is extremely appealing and   stylish.  It’s very proportional and   balanced, and the use of the frame makes it look both airy and light.  Unlike fully upholstered furniture, it does   not obstruct the room in which it is placed, but improves the perception of   spaciousness.  Even today, almost nine   decades after its presentation, when modernity is no longer an extravagant or   radical concept, the Wassily chair has neither aged nor become banal.  It still looks fresh and   contemporary.