International Decorative Art

B 263 Side Chair

B 263 Side Chair

Design Date 1931

Designer Mart Stam (1899-1986, Dutch)

Manufacturer Gebrüder Thonet (1853-present), Germany

Media chrome-plated tubular steel and painted wood

Dimensions 30 1/4 x 14 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches

Mart Stam is believed to have designed the first cantilevered chair, with the base support touching only one end of the seat. Mies van der Rohe, whose cantilevered chairs are some of the best-known, admitted to having been inspired by Stam’s early prototype of this chair in 1926, which was made with gas pipes and pipe fittings. The cantilevered design sparked so many imitators, as well as improvements on Stam’s design, that the 1930s and 1940s held a series of lawsuits between designers claiming to be the originator of the cantilevered chair. The principle of the cantilevered chair was the single continuous line, which was the best expression of simplicity and the most minimal of shapes, according to avant-garde designers. Tubular steel was an intriguing material to modern designers because it was commonly used industrially (like Stam’s gas pipes), because its use was innovative in furniture design and because its often shiny chrome finish reflected the modern desire for sterile interiors. Stam believed his tubular steel furniture should be inexpensive, easily produced and available to the masses in a design-as-equalizer social principle.

ON VIEW in Bauhaus Gallery 5

Markings Circular metal tag, "Thonet" logo on rear of seat

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2012.0874