Mart Stam

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Though not really a household name in modern design, Mart Stam played a nonetheless important role in establishing the modern aesthetic at the beginning of the 20th century. Born in 1899, Stam worked as a draftsman in Amsterdam before moving to Germany to join in the fun that was going on at the Bauhaus. During this time, he designed both buildings and furniture, establishing an international reputation for himself as a member of the International Style (as well as being an official member of the International Congress of Modern Architects).

Between 1927 and 1929, Mart Stam developed plans for three large housing projects that were constructed in Germany. It was these projects that catapulted him to international recognition. All three housing projects were located squarely on the left in terms of social and ethical thought, meaning that Stam was truly on the forefront of progressive architecture.

Mart Stam's Role in the Cantilever Chair Design

Throughout this time he also experimented with new materials and forms for furniture, including tubular steel and cantilevering. Though the true origins of the cantilever chair design are lost to history, some stories put Mart Stam at the center of the development by alleging that it was his original 1926 drawing that inspired both Breuer and Mies van der Rohe in their own experiments. Whether or not this is true, Stam's design for a cantilever chair helped revolutionize design.

The chair features leather wrapped over tubular steel bars, with leather wrapped armrests placed securely on each side of the seat. As a design, it remarkably lies between Mies van der Rohe's Brno chair and Breuer's early chair designs, such as the Strapped chair and the Wassily chair. Overall, its simplicity understates its role as arguably one of the most important chair designs of the early 20th century.


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