The History Behind The Unique Wassily Chair

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Also familiar as the Model B3 chair, the Wassily Chair is a chair originally designed in 1925-1926 by Marcel Breuer. At the time, his position at the Bauhaus which is located in Germany was the head of the cabinet-making workshop. According to popular belief the chair was designed for Wassily Kandinsky, a non-objective painter from the Bauhaus faculty. However this is not true. Wassily Kadinsky only admired the design after it was completed, and therefore Marcel Breuer created a duplicate of the chair that suited Kadinsky even more personally. An Italian manufacturer re-released that chair decades later.

Wassily Chair was manufactured for the first time by Thonet in the late 1920s. It was firstly available in two versions, folding and non-folding. In those early times, the strap of the Wassily Chair original were made out of fabric, and the use of springs made it possible to pull the taut on the side reverse of it. This version of the chair was rarely produced and the production completely stopped during World War II. The early designs of Breuer were mostly produced under the license of a manufacturer based in Berlin called the Standard-Möbel, Lengyel& Company. However, this chair was an exception.

After the years of war, the license for the chair was picked up by Gavina. Not only that, Gavina also picked up the license for all of the designs by Breuer that was sold by Standard-Möbel, Lengyel& Company beforehand. They then introduced a version of the Wassily Chair that had the fabric replaced with straps made out of black leather while still keeping the fabric version available. All of the designs by Breuer were then brought into the catalog of Knoll after Knoll bought Gavina in 1968.

The reason why the Wassily Chair is special is because its use of materials was revolutionary, as well as its methods of manufacturing. The bent tubular steel of the chair was said to be inspired by the handlebar of Breuer’s bicycle. It proved itself to be a suitable material because it was available in terms of quantity.

Just like a lot of other designs that belongs to the modernist movement, the Wassily Chair has been produced in great quantity since late 1920s and its production continued since post war in 1950s. Even though the patent of the Wassily Chair design have already expired, the name rights are still owned by Knoll. Other manufacturers produce the chair using different names.

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