Wassily Chair

Marcel Breuer ca. 1925

Marcel Breuer was an apprentice at the Bauhaus when he conceived the world’s first tubular steel chair. Inspired by the frame of a bicycle, a product he greatly admired for its functional design, Breuer saw tubular steel as a way of building a more transparent chair. Influenced by the constructivist theories of the Dutch De Stjil movement, Breuer took a familiar form — in this case the classic club chair — and reduced it to its elemental lines and planes. The composition of leather strips suspended on steel tubes was the first chair of its kind. Breuer later named the chair after Wassily Kandinsky, the first person to whom he showed the chair.

Finishes

  • color Black Cowhide
  • color Light Brown Cowhide
  • color White Beige Cowhide
  • color Chestnut (Haired Hide)
  • color Mahogany (Haired Hide)
  • color Coffee (Haired Hide)
  • color Gold (Haired Hide)
  • color Tan (Haired Hide)
  • color Black (Haired Hide)
  • color Black and White (Haired Hide)
  • color Tri-Color (Haired Hide)
  • color Black
  • color Fudge
  • color Chocolate
  • color Eggplant
  • color Umber
  • color Warm Beige
  • color Brown
  • color Khaki
  • color Taupe
  • color Putty
  • color Cream
  • color Medium Grey
  • color Gun Metal
  • color Light Grey
  • color Smoke
  • color White
  • color Deep Purple
  • color Deep Green
  • color Key Lime
  • color Lemon Meringue
  • color Sunshine
  • color Sweet Potato
  • color Dark Salmon
  • color Simply Red
  • color Cinnamon
  • color Dark Mustard

Dimensions

Additional Info

Construction and Details
  • Available in 27 Spinneybeck® belting leather colors with edges dyed to match
  • Available in Black, White, Beige and Light Brown Spinneybeck® thick cowhide leathers
  • AVailable in 8 Spinneybeck® haired hide options
  • Frame is seamless tubular steel with a polished chrome finish
  • Four plastic glides snap into pre-drilled holes on base of the chair
  • The KnollStudio logo and signature of Marcel Breuer are stamped into the base of the chair
Sustainable Design and Environmental Certification
  • GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®

Configure Wassily Chair

The configurator below is for reference purposes only. All options, finishes and sizes may not be represented.
For the complete scope, please refer to the KnollStudio price list.


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In an interview with a Knoll historian, Marcel Breuer described how he came to begin experimenting with bent tubular steel while at the Bauhaus:

“At that time I was rather idealistic. 23 years old. I made friends with a young architect, and I bought my first bicycle. I learned to ride the bicycle and talked to this young fellow and told him that the bicycle seems to be a perfect production because it hasn’t changed in the last twenty, thirty years. It is still the original bicycle form. He said, “Did you ever see how they make those parts? How they bend those handlebars? You would be interested because they bend those steel tubes like macaroni.”

"This somehow remained in my mind, and I started to think about steel tubes which are bent into frames—probably that is the material you could use for an elastic and transparent chair. Typically, I was very much engaged with the transparency of the form.

"That is how the first chair was made…I realized that the bending had to go further. It should only be bent with no points of welding on it so it could also be chromed in parts and put together. That is how the first Wassily was born. I was myself somewhat afraid of criticism. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing these experiments actually. [Wassily] Kandinsky, who came by chance to my studio when the first chair was brought in, said, “What’s this?” He was very interested and then the Bauhaus got very interested in it. A year later, I had furnished the whole Bauhaus with this furniture.”
 

A champion of the modern movement and protégé of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer is equally celebrated for his achievements in architecture and furniture. Breuer was a student and subsequently a master carpenter at the Bauhaus in the early 1920s. His entire body of work, both architecture and furniture, embodies the driving Bauhaus objective to reconcile art and industry. While at the Bauhaus, Breuer revolutionized the modern interior with his tubular-steel furniture collection — inspired by bicycle construction and fabricated using the techniques of local plumbers. His first designs, including the Wassily, remain among the most identifiable icons of the modern furniture movement.

While Breuer never worked directly for Knoll, he is nonetheless an influential figure in the company’s history. He was an early mentor to Florence Knoll during her time in the office of Walter Gropius in the 1930s. It was also Breuer who suggested that Hans Knoll hire Eszter Haraszty, the Knoll Textiles director responsible for many of the Knoll Planning Unit’s most memorable color combinations.

Breuer eventually sold his furniture collection to the Italian design company Gavina SpA. In large part it was the Breuer Collection that motivated Knoll to acquire Gavina in 1968. Along with The Wassily Chair, the collection included the Cesca side chair and Laccio table collection — both modern classics in their own right.