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The Wassily Chair, designed at the Bauhaus in 1925 by Marcel Breuer and produced today by Knoll, marks the beginning of modern furniture design. One of the first furniture designs to make use of steel tubing the Wassily Chair's elaborately shaped frame is combined with a leather upholstery that forms the seat and backrest. Breuer's constructivist design radically presents its statics for all to see and thus connects aesthetics and function in a unique and innovative manner.

Details

Product type Armchair
Dimensions

Dimensions in cm
Material Frame: Steel tubing, highly polished chrome, with plastic glides
Cover: Thick cowhide leather
Colours Cowhide leather

Awards & museum The Museum of Modern Art Award, 1968
Certificates The "Knoll International" logo and Marcel Breuer's signature are engraved in the frame
Sustainability GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®
Warranty 24 months

Popular versions

Wassily Chair, Cattle hide black
Wassily Chair, Cattle hide light brown
Wassily Chair, Cattle hide natural white

FAQ

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Should the answers to your questions not be found here, our service team can be contacted Mon-Fri, 8 am to 6 pm via +49 341 2222 88 22.

How do I recognise an original Wassily Chair?

The Knoll logo and the signature of the designer are engraved on the frame (since 1995). The original Wassily Chair is made of a special steel tube, which does not deform even after long-term use and guarantees stability. The elaborate chrome plating and the specially treated leather cover also indicate the authenticity of this design classic. In addition, the closing caps, for example, are made of metal and not plastic.

Design Story

Wassily Chair from Knoll International

Design

The Wassily armchair owes its name to none other than the painter Wassily Kandinsky, who taught at the Bauhaus Dessau when the piece of furniture was created. Kandinsky's colleague Marcel Breuer headed the carpentry at the Bauhaus from 1925, and designed the tubular steel armchair, officially known as the B 3 club armchair, in the same year. Kandinsky was so enthusiastic about the design of the Breuer armchair that he received one for his apartment in the Dessau master houses before serial production began. According to legend, Breuer, as a keen cyclist, was inspired by his bicycle handlebars made of bent tubular steel and decided to use the material for the manufacture of furniture: the Wassily armchair was the first ever piece of tubular steel furniture. The unusual constructivist frame is a central element of the design: its static relationships, which also include the bracing of leather straps as the backrest and seat, are fully exposed and helped establish a completely new aesthetic. Contrary to what Breuer had expected, the Wassily Chair was a great success precisely because of its rigorous design language and was part of the furniture for the Bauhaus building in Dessau, which opened in 1926.

Manufacturing

The Wassily armchair was manufactured industrially from the late 1920s by Thonet. In the 1960s, the Italian furniture producer Dino Gavini acquired the licenses, but only produced the Wassily Chair with moderate success. It was also Gavini who gave the B 3 club chair its current name Wassily armchair, essentially for marketing reasons. In 1968 Gavini's company was bought by Knoll International and the Wassily chair has been in production with the American furniture manufacturer ever since. In its contemporary re-edition, the steel tubes are chrome plated and not nickel plated as originally. The covering, which forms the seat, backrest and armrests, was originally made of fabric, canvas or leather and sewn with the then completely new material iron thread - a particularly tear-resistant and hard-wearing cotton thread. Today, the Wassily Chair from Knoll International is made of high-gloss chrome plated tubular steel covered by leather in various designs.

Bauhaus design classic from Knoll

Wassily Chair from Knoll

Designer

Marcel Breuer, born in Hungary in 1902, was, with the Wassily armchair, the architect and designer responsible for the first tubular steel furniture. Breuer began his career as an art student in Vienna before moving to Bauhaus Weimar to complete a carpentry apprenticeship. After graduating, Breuer took over the management of the carpentry workshop, and, in the same year, designed the revolutionary Wassily Chair. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, Breuer, a Hungarian Jew, was forced to flee Germany, and, after a stage in London, finally settled in the United States where he taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and worked with Walter Gropius. From 1946 Breuer concentrated on architecture, realising numerous projects such as the Whitney Museum in New York or the ski holiday resort Flaine in France, and left behind an architectural oeuvre that was decisive for contemporary architecture in the 20th century.

Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer

Historical Context

As the inventor of tubular steel furniture Marcel Breuer established a new era in design history that is comparable to the invention of the bentwood process in the 19th century. Tubular steel was not only a material that could be processed perfectly by machine, and thus ideal for the rapidly developing manufacturing processes of industrialization, it also embodied with its lightness and cool shine aesthetically the new zeitgeist of the 1920s and a new functionalist design language. As head of the furniture workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau, the cultural centre of classic modernism, Marcel Breuer played a key role in shaping the functionalist language of the Bauhaus. The Nazi takeover and preparations for war brought an abrupt end to the Bauhaus and the production of tubular steel furniture in 1933. Like many of his Bauhaus colleagues, Breuer emigrated to the USA and, with the functionalist spirit of the Bauhaus in his luggage, became one of the main protagonists of international modernism.

Manufacturer

Knoll International was founded in 1938 by Hans Knoll under the name Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company. As the son of Walter Knoll, Hans Knoll grew up with a strong connection to the furniture industry, experienced the Bauhaus movement and met influential figures such as Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer. Inspired by the idea that modern architects need modern furniture, he hired the room planner and designer Florence Schust, who held a degree from the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, and had acquired work experience in the architectural offices of Gropius and Breuer. Following their wedding in 1946, the couple founded Knoll Associates and maintained the Bauhaus approach, but steered the company in a more international direction through collaborations with Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Jens Risom, and Isamu Noguchi. To date, Knoll International is one of the most renowned furniture manufacturers in the industry and counts design classics such as the Barcelona collection by Mies van der Rohe, the Saarinen Tulip Chairs by Eero Saarinen, the Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer and the well-known Diamond Chairs by Harry Bertoia amongst its exclusive portfolio.

More about 'Wassily Chair' in our blog

Bauhaus Dessau: Marcel Breuer – Design and Architecture

...Indeed start typing the name "Marcel Breuer" into google and the all-knowing, all-seeing algorithm will only offer you "Marcel Breuer Chair", "Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair" and "Marcel Breuer Biography" as searches...

All 'Wassily Chair' Posts

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