Marcel Breurer’s Wassily Chair embodies the Bauhaus ideals of reconciling art and industry, and making well-designed consumer goods available to the masses. The chair is widely recognized as a 20th century design classic.
As we approach the centenary of the Bauhaus’ foundation in Weimar Germany (1919), the Wassily Chair project revisits and questions the success of Consumer Modernism as represented by the Wassily chair.
Modernism, for all its bad press and academic revisions (not least that cultural movement, Post Modernism), remains the dominant cultural force of the twenty-first century. Driven by globalization, the homogenizing id at the heart of Consumer Modernist project is nearing its end goal: the transformation the world’s once diverse peoples, cities cultures and environments into Modernist mutations.
In the proposed works, the Wassily Chair is striped back to an allegorical Modernist frame. In an act of cultural détournement (turning around), the Wassily frame is recast as a champion of all the things and values Modernism has been so effective at appropriating, consuming, crushing and rendering mute. In the works cultural and social diversity, difference, care and consideration of values and things that do not directly lead to material gain and profit (such as caring for the environment) – are celebrated. To further rile any die-hard Modernists, the works are also infused with humour and irreverence – qualities not characteristic of pure Modernism.
Wassily Chair Marcel Breurer. 1925. Steel and chrome chair frame, leather straps. Dimensions: 78 x 72 x 65 cm