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For the past few months, my partner and I have been redesigning our kitchen. We’ve spent countless hours picking out a backsplash, choosing a new faucet, conceptualizing lighting designs, and combing through every single marble handle out there in order to find the set with the very best veining.
One decision, however, was quick and painless: picking seating. It seemed every stylish kitchen we’ve admired in the last few months (read: dominated our Instagram feeds) has featured these particular cantilever chairs, and just like the rest of the world, we were hooked. While we both loved the look, we admittedly didn’t know much about the design’s history, so today I’m digging deeper into the backstory of what’s become 2019-2020’s most popular dining chair.
The story of the chair starts in Germany, at the famous Bauhaus design school. Miraculously, in just 14 years of operation, the Bauhaus produced a handful of interior design’s most enduring thought leaders. One such student was Marcel Breuer. The goal of his work, which aligned with the central teachings of his alma mater, was to marry form and function through common, accessible materials, and a dash of ingenuity. Arguably, his most famous creation is the balancing act of tubular steel and cane that sits in our kitchen and many others today: the B32 chair.
While its debut in 1928 caused a splash, not everyone welcomed the designer’s thoughtful creation. Four years prior, a prominent Bauhausian, Mart Stam had himself designed a tubular cantilever chair using gas pipes, though his lacked the caning that Breuer had employed. Angered, Stam and Breuer’s respective manufacturers fought for three years with one another in German courts in hopes of snatching the European patent out of the other’s hands. In the end, it was Stam who won.
Since its inception over 90 years ago, the rights to producing Breuer’s version of the chair have changed hands from Thonet to Dino Gavina (who stripped it of its numerical moniker and re-dubbed it the Cesca chair after Breuer’s daughter Francesca) to Knoll, who has recently revitalized the chair in honor of the Bauhaus’ 100th anniversary. Their latest iterations include multiple heights, upholstery options, and colors.
With a surge in popularity like Breuer’s chair is experiencing comes a heightened chance of fizzling out; of eventually teetering more towards trendy than classical. The Cesca chair’s current popularity; however, shows no signs of slowing down. Its ability to be reinvented, its place in design history and the ease at which it fits with any home’s style are sure to keep it a designer and homeowner go-to for many years to come.
- The beechwood captain’s chair (above) from Scandinavian Designs is similar in hue to Breuer’s original concept. ($139.00)
- Set your dining table apart by going for a richer, darker set from Restaurant Furniture Warehouse. ($136.00)
- The most graphic of updates to Breuer’s chair is this black frame design from Dania Furniture. It pairs well with olive green accents. ($119.00)
- For those looking for a comfier seat, this olive option from AllModern will do the trick. ($155.00)
- And, just so you know, Knoll lets you customize the original Breuer chair from upholstery to the color of the frame. They even offer bar and counter height options. ($972.00)
Have you seen this dining chair style around? Tell us in the comments below.