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D42 Weissenhof Armchair

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - 1927
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"Why use four legs when two are enough?" asked the German painter Kurt Schwitters in 1927 after visiting the Weißenhof estate in Stuttgart. This rhetorical question relates to the chairs without back legs by Mart Stam and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, which were shown there for the first time. 

"Mies came back from Stuttgart in November 1926 and told us about Mart Stam’s idea for a chair. We had a drawing-board on the wall and Mies drew the Stam-chair on it, right-angled, beginning from the top. He even added the fittings and then said: "Ugly, those fittings are really ugly. If only he‘d rounded them off – there, that looks better", and he drew a curve. A simple curve from his hand on the Stam-sketch had made a new chair out of it!" Sergius Ruegenberg, 1985

For Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), it was all about a comfortable item of furniture with lines accentuating space. 

The realization of Mies requires careful craftsmanship in creating precise curvatures and correct wickerwork. The natural wickerwork, which according to the Weißenhof architect Heinz Rasch was developed by Lilly Reich (a German modernist designer who was a close collaborator of Mies for more than ten years) have a thickened finish so that they help to promote stability. 

At first the sled shape with the upper backrest tubing suggests light mobility, but sitting on the chair can gently set the curvature in motion. The flexible cantilever chair is one of the most successful structures in functional furniture.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), a German-born architect and educator, is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century's greatest architects. By emphasizing open space and revealing the industrial materials used in construction, he helped define modern architecture.

Born in Aachen, Germany, Mies spent the first half of his career in his native country. His early work was mainly residential, and he received his first independent commission, the Riehl House, when he was only 20 years old. Mies quickly became a leading figure in the avant-garde life of Berlin and was widely respected in Europe for his innovative structures, including the Barcelona Pavilion. In 1930, he was named director of the Bauhaus, the renowned German school of experimental art and design, which he led until 1933 when he closed the school under pressure from the Nazi Regime.

In 1938 Mies van der Rohe left Europe for the United States, to become the new director of Armour Institute in Chicago, were he later engaged the Second Chicago School of architecture. Mies' first task as director was to "rationalize" the architecture curriculum. He insisted on a back-to-basics approach to education: Architecture students must first learn to draw, then gain thorough knowledge of the features and use of the builder's materials, and finally master the fundamental principles of design and construction. Mies' second task was to expand the south side campus and was encouraged to develop plans for a newly expanded 120-acre campus. In his final Master Plan he embraced Chicago's rectilinear street grid and designed two symmetrically balanced groups of buildings. Mies' academic buildings stood in sharp contrast to the patrician campuses of the past. They embodied 20th century methods and materials: steel and concrete frames with curtain walls of brick and glass. The Master Plan created an oasis of calm that emulated the openness of the Midwestern prairie in the midst of the chaotic surrounding city. Mies' buildings are both magisterial and harmonious, and they set a new aesthetic standard for modern architecture. Indeed, Mies' designs have so pervaded our definition of architecture that it is difficult to imagine how revolutionary the campus was when it was first built. Mies went on to design some of the nation's most recognizable skyscrapers, including the Lake Shore Drive Apartments in Chicago and the Seagram Building in New York City.

Whether or not you agree with Mies' assertation that less is more, his contribution to the modern urban landscape cannot be overlooked. Mies' architecture has been described as being expressive of the industrial age in the same way that Gothic was expressive of the age of ecclesiasticism.

In 1959, the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded Mies its Gold Medal and the following year he received the AIA Gold Medal, the highest award given by the American Association of Architects. President Lyndon Johnson presented Mies with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

It was in 1966 when Mies began suffering from cancer of the esophagus. He died three years later in his adoptive hometown, Chicago. Family surrounded him at his deathbed and, at a memorial service in Crown Hall, the general public stood alongside the leading names in architecture to mourn the architect.

Our built environment is meant to be lived in. Mies' buildings, beyond merely affecting our lives, endow them with greater significance and beauty. His buildings radiate the confidence, rationality, and elegance of their creator and, free of ornamentation and excess, confess the essential elements of our lives. In our time, where there is no limit to excess, Mies' reductionist approach is as pertinent as ever. As we reduce the distractions and focus on the essential elements of our environment and ourselves, we find they are great, intricate, and beautiful. Less is more.

Source: Mies van der Rohe Society

TECTA is a furniture manufacturing company based in Lauenförde, Germany. It was founded in 1956 by the architect Hans Könecke. The company name comes from Latin, and means "to design" or "to execute". In 1972 Werner and Axel Bruchhäuser took over the company, and Bruchhäuser remains in charge to this day, jointly since 2001 with his nephew Christian Drescher.

The product line of Tecta consists of Bauhaus re-editions, such as the iconic cantilever chair, and derivative designs. Numerous items of furniture created by avant-garde designers of the 1920s have been mass-produced for the first time by Tecta. Tecta’s faithful and licensed re-editions of Bauhaus models are approved by the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin and bear as an imprint the Bauhaus symbol designed by Oskar Schlemmer in 1922 at the original Bauhaus school in Weimar.

Tecta also works with a variety of contemporary architects and artists to create modern furniture based on Bauhaus principles.

Tecta continues to work in the commitment to the Modern Movement - a movement which, as architect Peter Smithson put it, "…is not legacy in the sense of a sum of money to be spent or speculated with…it is a genetic stance, a responsibility…something to live up to."

Armchair

Frame nickel plated steel tube, seat and back in natural cane wickerwork double wickerwork

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SPECIFICATIONS

Width 57cm, depth 84cm, height 81cm

Made in Germany

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