The story of Marcel Breuer's Wassily Chair

by J. Parker

The Wassily Chair is a classic of modern design and is considered one of the most important pieces of furniture of the 20th century. The chair was designed by Marcel Breuer , a Hungarian architect and designer who was a member of the renowned Bauhaus school. Distinguished by its clean lines and innovative use of materials, the Wassily Chair quickly became a major influence on an entire generation of furniture and industrial designers. In this post we will take a closer look at the history and influence of the Wassily Chair.

Story behind the Wassily
The iconic silhouette of the Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer

A revolutionary design

The B3 Chair, also known as the Wassily Chair, is a timeless design recognized for its sleek appearance and inventive choice of materials. Created in 1925 by Hungarian designer Marcel Breuer, the chair is regarded as one of the most significant furniture pieces of the 20th century. Breuer, who was a young architect and furniture designer at the time, developed the chair during his time at the renowned Bauhaus school in Dessau as part of a project to furnish the living quarters of the Bauhaus director.


Materials and construction

As an innovative furniture designer, Breuer utilized tubular steel in his development of the Wassily Chair. He aimed to showcase both the visual and practical benefits of this material. The chair features a distinct geometric structure created by curved and chrome-plated steel tubes. Its seat and backrest are composed of leather straps, stretched over the frame to provide a degree of pliability. This design element adds to the chair's overall flexibility, creating a comfortable and functional seating experience.

Wassily Chair Black

Black Wassily chair


Origin of the name

The Wassily Chair gets its name from the renowned Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky, who was a friend and colleague of Breuer's at the Bauhaus. According to reports, Kandinsky was impressed by the design and expressed his admiration during a visit to Breuer's studio. As a result, Breuer gifted Kandinsky with one of the chairs, which helped to popularize the design even further.

Portrait of Marcel Breuer

A portrait of Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer was born in Pécs, Hungary and began his art studies in Vienna. From 1920 to 1924 he studied at the State Bauhaus in Weimar and completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter. After he was appointed "Jungmeister" in 1925, he took over the management of the carpentry workshop at the Bauhaus. At that time he was influenced by holistic currents such as Constructivism and De Stijl. Breuer developed some revolutionary tubular steel furniture designs, which he began as a private project and then realized at and for the Bauhaus in Dessau. He worked with companies like Junkers to develop prototypes. In 1928 Breuer left the Bauhaus to have more freedom and to continue his experiments.


Success and influence

While it didn't initially gain widespread recognition, the Wassily Chair gradually gained prominence and is now revered as one of the most significant furniture pieces of the 20th century. Its impact on furniture design inspired a new generation of designers and makers. Presently, the chair is produced by Italian company Knoll, and it's offered in various colors and materials. The Wassily Chair has come to represent modern design, but it also serves as a timeless illustration of the aesthetic and practical appeal of minimalist furniture.

Image Quotes: Knoll

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