Jun 4, 2014

One of The Most Important Chairs of The 20th Century

my chair

my chair

If you've been following my adventures on Instagram and Facebook, you're already aware of my dream kitchen dining area and my three chairs for $25. The chair above is one I sold last year. If you follow me on Twitter, you know we're moving again (ADHD or sane decision - you decide). I also decided to sell my mid-century dining table and chairs - which has left us - once again - without a table or chairs.

So, now is the perfect time to acquire my dream kitchen dining area! Out with the old, in with the new!

As I was perusing Craigslist for Best of Craigslist Vancouver content, I thought, 'There sure are many of those Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs around. How can I tell what's a fake?' Well, it turns out the Cesca chair was never patented (blame it on Mart Stam) and is, therefore, in the public domain. Le Corbusier is turning in his grave. 

There are actually two Cesca chairs—the B32, manufactured and mass-produced by Thonet from about 1930 to the end of WWII (stay tuned for my Thonet tubular steel rocker adventure), and the cheaper version manufactured by Knoll from the 1950s to the present.

1928 designed version:
  • warm beech patina
  • back and chair, each made of a single bent piece (bentwood)
  • back has a marked curve
  • caning was done by hand and sewn into the bentwood frame
  • slight incline to the front edge of the seat
  • curves of the tubular steel frame are even
  • large bolts
After the war, Breuer made some changes to the original design. The seat back and chair were altered, the bentwood frame thickened, and the size of the bolts decreased.

All that's left of the more expensive original 1928 design:
  • hand-caning
  • chrome plated steel caps on the tubing
  • rods inserted to maintain the curvature of the tubular steel shape 
For a fun read on comparing multiple copies of the Cesca - and a Cesca chair checklist - check out this article from the New York Times archive.

last image: B32 version via the V&A

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