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B5 Side Chair

This is a Side Chair. It is dated 1926–27 and we acquired it in 2007. Its medium is bent chrome-plated tubular steel, eisengarn (parafin treated cotton canvas). It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The tubular steel chair is one of the most emblematic pieces of modernist furniture. While a number of designers created subsequent versions, including Mies van der Rohe, the original tubular steel chair was created by Marcel Breuer in 1926.
In 1921, a 26-year-old Breuer was one of the first apprentices in the Bauhaus furniture workshop. By 1924, he was its head. Before he left the Bauhaus in 1928, Breuer also designed a number of important interiors, including the personal homes of a number of other Bauhaus masters like Walter Gropius and László Maholy-Nagy (B5 chairs were used in Maholy-Nagy’s dining room). Breuer experimented for some time before discovering a successful method for bending extruded, industrial steel tubes into chair forms. In 1926, Breuer was awarded patents for seven tubular steel furniture designs. The following year, Breuer and a colleague established the furniture company Standard-Möbel specifically to manufacture and sell tubular steel pieces to a wider public. The B5 chair was one of the models sold in the company’s initial line. Due to financial reasons, Standard-Möbel was sold to the Austrian furniture company Thonet in 1928.
The B5 chair under discussion dates from the short-lived Standard-Möbel era and, as such, represents an extremely rare and early example of this form. Because the B5 was later overshadowed by the more popular B3 model (commonly known as the “Wassily”) its production was more limited.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The B5 Chair.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

  • Airline Chair
  • birch, ash, naugahyde, steel tacks.
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II.
  • 2018-22-28
  • B3 Chair
  • chrome-plated tubular steel, canvas.
  • Gift of Gary Laredo.
  • 1956-10-1-a,b

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 84 x 47 x 62.5 cm (33 1/16 x 18 1/2 x 24 5/8 in.)

Cite this object as

B5 Side Chair; Germany; bent chrome-plated tubular steel, eisengarn (parafin treated cotton canvas); H x W x D: 84 x 47 x 62.5 cm (33 1/16 x 18 1/2 x 24 5/8 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2007-9-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Looking Forward/ Looking Back: Recent Acquisitions in 20th- and 21st-Century Design.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=B5 Side Chair |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=5 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>