Chair as a Design Icon

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  • Topic: Bauhaus, De Stijl, Wassily Chair
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  • Published : April 15, 2011
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I have chosen three chairs for my essay. All three of these chairs have been designed by different designers. The names of the chairs, their designers and the movement they belong to are as follows: 1. The Hill House Chair:

Designer: Charles Rene Mackintosh.
Movement: Art Noveau, Modernism.
Year: 1904-08.

2. Wassily Chair:
Designer: Marcel Breuer.
Movement: Modernism.
Year: 1925-26.

3. Red Blue Chair:
Designer: Gerrit Retvield.
Movement: Modernism.
Year: 1918-21.

These three chairs were some of the most famous chairs of that time. These chairs reflect the development of design at that time. These can be recognized for their style, movement and point in history from which they were designed. These chairs are considered as design icons and help understand their design context.

The 3 Chairs:

1. Hill House Chair: Similar to Wright's prairie chairs, but more light and delicate, this chair can be seen as a modern version of gothic furniture principles. Originally painted white, Mackintosh's high, narrow Hill House chair was meant to be decorative - not to be actually sat on. This chair was designed for The Hill House designed by Mackintosh in Helensburgh, Scotland. "Its reductive simplicity renders it timeless in many ways, and yet it belongs unequivocally to this period when a number of young architects and designers in Britain, Europe and the United States were striving to go beyond the historicism and stylistic eclecticism of the previous century" Penny Spark, Icons of Design, The 20th Century, Prestel: p16

Description of the Chair: This sculptural chair's spidery appearance acts as a stark contrast to the pretty white Art feminine décor of the main bedroom. It was however originally designed in white color but is found in black and brown these days. The chair is made up of ash-wood. The elegant Ladder Back chair is extremely delicate with its sole purpose of decoration. The slender back legs are elliptical in shape with a series of ladder rails linking them together. The seat pad is also very small to emphasize the chair's fragility.

The Life and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in 1868 in the Town head area of Glasgow. He trained as an architect with John Hutchison and studied art and design at evening classes at Glasgow School of Art. After completing his apprenticeship he moved to Honeyman and Keppie in 1889. In 1900, Charles Rennie Mackintosh married Margaret Macdonald and by 1901 Mackintosh had become a partner of Honeyman and Keppie. In 1902 Mackintosh received a significant commission when he was asked to design. The Hill House in Helens burgh for Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie. Mackintosh designed not only the house and garden, which was completed in 1904, but also much of the furniture and all the interior fittings and decorative schemes. Margaret contributed fabric designs and a unique gesso over mantel. The Hill House is perhaps Mackintosh’s most polished interior since he experimented with – and fine tuned – his aesthetic not only with the Windy hill commission, but also with his own homes at 120 Mains Street and then at 78 South park Avenue, Glasgow. At Mains Street in 1900, in collaboration with his wife Margaret, Mackintosh installed his first all-white sitting room and experimented with the contrast of light and dark rooms and ‘male’ and ‘female’ environments.

This chair can be seen as the link between the curved and organic lines of Art Nouveau and the geometric simplicity of the Modern movement. This chair was perhaps Mackintosh’s seminal domestic design project.  The house demonstrates many of Mackintosh’s design influences such as the Scottish Baronial Tradition, organic forms and a concern for the total work of art where every detail in the house was designed to harmonize.  The chair itself was designed for the bedroom and can be seen as a counterpoint to the white and more...
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