Marcel Breuer, Tubular steel armchair, design 1925-26  / Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Fotostudio Bartsch

Marcel Breuer, Tubular steel armchair, design 1925-1926 Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Photo: Fotostudio Bartsch

Marcel Breuer, Tubular steel armchair, design 1925-26

By his own account, it was bicycle handlebars that inspired Marcel Breuer to create his tubular steel chair. He headed the Furniture Workshop at the Bauhaus from 1925 to 1928. During that time, he designed the first tubular steel chair in the history of design: the B3 chair (later also known as Wassily). Up to that time, steel tubing had mainly been used for hospital furniture. Breuer developed it into a ‘club chair’ for the living-room – not the kind of heavy, upholstered chair previously seen, but a light seat designed for industrial production. Although it was some time before industrial manufacturing of the tubular steel armchair followed and the later versions were welded and inserted, making them difficult to dismantle, its open construction reduced to only a few elements perfectly matched the Bauhaus’s functional aesthetic.

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