B 64, Cesca

Marcel Breuer

Design: 1928
Production: 1929 to the present
Manufacturer: Gebrüder Thonet AG,
Frankenberg on Eder, Germany
Size: 81 x 57 x 62.5; seat height 45 cms
Material: chrome-plated tubular steel,
varnished wood, bentwood, wicker

Marcel Breuer’s cantilever chair is one of the best-known chairs in the world, but it often first came to the attention of consumers through cheap imitations. Breuer’s fondness for tubular steel and his knowledge of how to use it in chair construction was already illustrated in the Club chair “B 3” (Wassily) introduced in 1925. Breuer was revolutionary in abandoning the traditional construction of a chair based on four legs, but he was not the originator of this idea. The Dutch architect Mart Stam had already introduced the notion of a cantilevered chair to Heinz Rasch and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1926 during the preparation of the Werkbund exhibition “Die Wohnung” (the apartment) for the Weissenhof Settlement in Stuttgart. The design was a far cry from a free-swinger for it was rigid. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the first to pick up on the idea of a chair without traditional leg support with his model “MR 10” and continued the straight barrel shape in a single curve to the seat. Both chairs were presented in the exhibition “Die Wohnung” (the apartement) in 1927 where Marcel Breuer saw them. Although Breuer allowed many of his tubular steel designs to be produced as standard furniture, he gave the production rights for the “B 32” (without armrests) and the “B 64” to Thonet. Stam’s complaint about the use of his designs was rejected by Breuer with the argument that he had already designed a U-shaped stool in 1925-6 for the canteen of the Bauhaus which – if it were laid on its side – anticipated the principle of the cantilevered chair. The main difference from Stam’s model lay in the combination of tubular steel construction with wooden frames for the seat and back, with a bentwood technique referring to the origins of the bending of tubular steel. Even if Breuer was not the originator of the cantilevered chair, his springy free-swinger became his greatest commercial success. When the Italian company Gavina s.p.a. took over production of the Breuer designs in 1962, the “B 64” received the nickname “Cesca” after Breuer’s adopted daughter, Francesca. PD

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer, B 64 Cesca