Cesca Chair

Noticing that steel tubing could be formed into bicycle handlebars is supposedly what sparked the idea for Marcel Breuer’s classic “Cesca” chair. Taken separately from the manufacturing process, each of Breuer’s expressions of form would not seriously be considered the most appropriate formal expression of the material used. The Cesca chair is most certainly an expression of material functionalism. Any attempt to replace the steel tubing, with another material, falls far short of the obvious goal, a resilient, comfortable, affordable chair.

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Cesca chair, 1928 Marcel Breuer (1902 – 1981)


Breuer’s Wassily chair is impossible in any material but steel tubing, being a constructionist expression of chair, simply alive with material tension. Breuer’s work is a perfect example of a craftsman-like approach derived from manufacturing method. Function clearly played a minor role in the creation of the chair. Indeed, only as an abstraction of “chair” can it be considered a functional success. Function is just a justification for its existence. Joinery and craftsmanship played important roles. One would never have considered this kind of expression except by threedimensional investigation. The Wassily is certainly an intellectual exercise in complexity of form. If it was to be judged as a purely functional object it clearly wouldn’t shine but the would is richer for it.

Wassily chair, 1928 (Named for Wassily Kandisky) Marcel Breuer (1902 – 1981)


Design is a Performing Art
Bruce Hannah 1997© | Illustrations by Bruce Hannah