Chair (cantilever)

Thonet

S33/ S34 (1926), Mart Stam

Mart Stam (1899-1986) was a Dutch architect, urban planner, and furniture designer. Starting in 1925, Stam experimented with gas pipes that he connected with flanges and developed the principle of the cantilever chair: a chair that no longer rests on four legs. He thus created a construction principle that became an important building block in the history of modern furniture design. In the beginning, Stam was not yet focused on the flexing effect of the bent tubular steel. He was solely interested in the clear form, which perfectly fit in with the modern buildings of the time.

The S33 and the S34 (with armrests) are the first cantilever chairs in furniture history. They were used for the first time in 1927 in the Weissenhof-Siedlung in Stuttgart. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became aware of Stam’s work on the chair during planning for the Weissenhof Siedlung and mentioned it to Marcel Breuer. This led almost immediately to variations on the cantilevered tubular-steel chair theme by both Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer, and began an entire genre of chair design. In the late 1920s, Breuer and Stam were involved in a patent lawsuit in German courts, both claiming to be the inventor of the basic cantilever chair design principle. Stam won the lawsuit, and, since that time, specific Breuer chair designs have often been erroneously attributed to Stam.

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