Siesta Medizinal

Hans and Wassili Luckhardt

Design: 1936
Production: since 1937
Manufacturer: Gebrüder Thonet AG,
Frankenberg on Eder, Germany
Size: 113.5/84 x 67 x 90.5/163;
seat height 41 cms
Material: wood, leather upholstery

When Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Pierre Jeanneret first presented their anatomically shaped, adjustable chaise longue at the end of the twenties, Hans Luckhardt designed, first alone and after 1933-4 together with Anton Lorenz, the so-called “movement chairs.” At the time, Lorenz concerned himself especially with medical problems associated with sitting. Around 1935 the first trial models were produced by Thonet. On the basis of these trials, Luckhardt developed numerous examples in a line of chaise longues which Thonet marketed as of 1937 under the name “Siesta Medizinal.” The chair’s true innovation lay in the mechanics of its so-called “steering mechanism,” which synchronously moved the three separate supports for the back and the upper and lower thighs, ensuring adjustment to each movement of the body automatically by a mere shifting of weight, and keeping the chair stably balanced at all times. If the user stretches out, the chair stretches with him, extending into a lightly wavy chaise longue or, in the opposite direction, retracting back into a chair position. It can be fixed in any position by a screw attached to the side. The space available is generously proportioned on anatomically shaped slats; armrests and an adjustable headrest round out the comfort of the chair. Underwater trials, which Lorenz conducted in 1938 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Industrial Physiology in Dortmund, proved after the fact that the user is in an optimal position for relaxation on the stretched out, slightly wavy surface of the “Siesta Medizinal.” Luckhardt also created his prototype for the first automatically adjustable airplane seat at the same time as the “Siesta Medizinal.” It was tested by Air France in 1938 but, due to the outbreak of the war, did not go into mass production. In addition to numerous other versions and further refinements, e.g., as a folding chair, the construction was also marketed by Thonet as a chair for medical use made of tubular steel with metal springs for cushioning and armrests which could be adjusted upward. In the fifties, the U.S. patent granted to Anton Lorenz for the mechanism of the chair sparked a huge industry which specialized in the production of socalled reclining chairs. MSC

Hans and Wassili Luckhardt

Hans and Wassili Luckhardt Siesta Medizinal