The Design History of the Iconic Cantilevered Chair

What is a Cantilevered Chair?

The cantilevered chair is not just somewhere to sit; it is a chair that appears to defy gravity itself. This design was a complete departure from traditional chair design and although it appears current and up-to-date, it was designed nearly a hundred years ago in the 1920s and continues to inspire chair designs today.


One of the most important developments in the history of architecture and chair and furniture design is the Bauhaus, and people still look for vintage Bauhaus chairs for sale. This design institution was established in 1919 in Dessau, Germany, where Mart Stam and Marcel Breuer were teachers. Stam preferred economy of style and functionality in his designs, which was a complete departure from the stuffy, over-upholstered styles of the Edwardian era and led to a more economical form of furniture design in the post-WW1 era.

Designer Conflicts

The original design of the cantilever chair, a fine example of Bauhaus furniture, was sketched on the back of a wedding announcement by Mart Stam at a dinner party in Germany in 1926. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was also present at the dinner party, subsequently produced his own version of this iconic design. Stam fought through the courts for his right of patent and was eventually credited as the originator of this iconic chair. At first, people were hesitant to use it as they were convinced it would collapse when they sat on it. This was the effect of the economy of structure and style employed by Stam. Others disliked the tubular steel frame, which they felt was reminiscent of hospital beds and ward furnishings of WW1 and was not comfortable.

Bauhaus Chairs

The breakthrough in the development of chair design didn’t stop at Stam’s cantilevered chair. Other furniture designers of the period built on these ideas, and more designs quickly followed. The Wassily Chair, for example, was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-26. Breuer is believed to have found inspiration for his design in his newly purchased bicycle. Impressed by the lightness of the tubular frame, he transferred this idea to his furniture construction. The Wassily chair was followed by the iconic Barcelona chair in 1929. It was designed by the director of the Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe, and Lilly Reich for the International Expedition that was held in Barcelona that same year.

Bauhaus chairs for sale

Bauhaus and the innovative designers of the early 20th century were instrumental in the development of furniture, and each left a lasting legacy that today’s designers find hard to improve on. These chairs have not only stood the test of time but continue to complement contemporary interiors. Include one in your own interior decor by searching online for Bauhaus chairs for sale.
Design classics like the cantilevered chair, the Wassily chair, and the Barcelona chair are considered iconic designs that are still relevant in today’s world. These chairs continue to lead the way in contemporary furniture design that complements many interiors.

cantilevered chair

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