Frisvingerstole / Cantilever chairs
Vienna coffee house chair from Thonet in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark
This chair was produced by Fritz Hansen in the 1930s and possibly dates from 1934.
It follows closely the design of the famous tubular steel chair by the Hungarian Marcel Breuer that he designed in 1927 when he was teaching at the Bauhaus in Germany when he was head of its carpentry workshop.
The original Breuer chair was made by Thonet, the Austrian furniture company that is acknowledged as the first to have industrialised the production of furniture, splitting the manufacture between different sections of their factory, to make identical chairs in large numbers and produce chairs that could be disassembled for easier packing when they were shipped.
One of the first and probably the most popular chairs from Thonet was Chair 14 in steamed and bent wood that was designed in 1859 and is also known as the Vienna coffee house chair. It is said that between 1860 and 1930 some 50 million were produced.
In 1927 Thonet made furniture for apartments and houses in the important international exhibition of architecture and design in Stuttgart that was on the Weissenhof Estate where a combination of concrete-built homes and industrial furniture established what is now generally described as the International Style.
Fritz Hansen, as a major Danish furniture company, was clearly aware of these developments and presumably saw this new style of furniture in tubular steel as, potentially, appropriate for new apartments being constructed in Copenhagen.
Designmuseum Danmark has 16 pieces of furniture in their collection that were designed by Mart Stamm and in production from 1930 onwards - most are in bent steel tube including cantilevered chairs and glass-topped tables but also in the collection is a day bed, a desk and a food trolley. Martinus Stam (1899-1986) was an architect and designer from the Netherlands who worked in Berlin in the 1920s and then in the Soviet Union in the 1930s where he designed housing for workers. He appears to have made the first cantilevered chair in Berlin from straight lengths of metal gas pipe that were linked in a series of right angles with plumbing joints to form a chair frame that supported a seat and a back rest but had no legs at the back. With designers from the Bauhaus, he then developed the version that used bent-steel tube although the collaboration actually led to copyright disputes.
This particular chair by Fritz Hansen is not attributed to Stamm in the catalogue of the museum although it is close in style to a chair without arms that was made by Fritz Hansen and was by the designer.
In 1921 Thonet merged with the German company Mundas and now has its headquarters in Frankenberg - just over 100 kilometres north of Frankfurt
Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) was one of the first and the youngest students at the Bauhaus.
He became the head of the carpentry workshop and moved with the Bauhaus from their original buildings to Dessau in 1925. In 1936 he moved to England and then on to America.
Chair B64 - The Breuer Chair made by Thonet from 1927
also known as the Cesca Chair from Knoll who made the chair from 1968
made in bent steel with steam-bent beech and cane
height of seat: 44cm
In the current arrangement of the chairs in the collection, the Fritz Hansen chair is shown directly above the Thonet chair by Marcel Breuer so the design and the details of construction in the two chairs can be compared.