The Cesca Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer. It was created in 1953 and first shown at a 1954 furniture exhibition. The chair is a recurring cause for controversy as members of the general public insist that the six-foot wayward ropes should be removed, but this can’t happen because their removal would violate the landmark’s status as a National Historic Landmark.
The design was originally designed by Marcel Breuer for the Bauhaus School of Design and was renamed “Cesca” (Italian for ‘holly-tree) by Cole & Son upon commissioning the company to remake it into an armchair. It has angular lines and deep curves that create a dynamic sculptural form that compensates for changing users’ body weight, and it also features a small padded Roly Poly seat cushion.
Marcel Breuer was born on December 11, 1902, in Pressburg (Bratislava), near the new Austro-Hungarian Empire’s border with the Republic of Slovakia. Breuer studied sculpture and architecture at university before settling on sculpture. He enrolled twice – first in 1921 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Vienna, and then eleven years later at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Berlin – but did not complete his studies there either time concurrently or consecutively.
Known as the “master of lightness” for his sensitivity to material handling, Breuer used chairs as subjects in an exploratory study on the form. The use of materials that are cheap but readily available was a reflection of social reform during Hitler’s tyranny, where austerity became an overriding design concept. Breuer created many designs including the easy chairs, wicker chairs, and coordinating benches, armchairs, and tables. These were reduced shapes made up of woven cane or metal slats set at diagonal angles so they would have visual depth – all achieved with minimal effort without decoration or superfluous ornamentation.
Breuer’s early work embraced art deco lines which later progressed to Constructivist leanings producing functions rather than forms that emphasized the simplicity inherent.