Mart Stam Chairs

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Unarguably, the most well known of all Mart Stam chairs is the Cantilever Chair. Supposedly, the chair as it exists today is the fully developed version of a prototype that Stam was developing as early as 1926. Though tubular steel designs peppered modern furniture in 1926 (Breuer's Wassily chair, for instance), using tubular steel in conjunction with the structural principle of cantilevering was brand new in 1926.

Stam's ability to exploit the strength of new materials in successful designs had a great impact on many major designers. Apparently, it was Stam's sketch of a cantilevered chair that inspired many other designers to tackle the problem. Over the next few years, as an increasing number of European designers experimented with tubular steel, many great cantilever chair designs would emerge.

A Brief Comparison of Mies Chairs and Mart Stam Chairs

In fact, comparing Mart Stam chairs to the cantilever chair designs of other architects brings some major similarities to light. Though extremely different in temperament, Stam's 1926 Cantilever chair and Mies van der Rohe's 1927 Cantilever chair share many features. The stretched leather seat and back, along with the size of the chair as a whole, are remarkably similar between the two chairs.

Differences are also present: The tubular steel frame of Mies' Cantilever chair rises above the back of the chair to form a full loop of steel, but in Mart Stam chairs, the steel disappears behind the solid black of the leather seat back. Overall, the Stam chair seems more unabashedly formal, with more severe angles that the Mies chair and solid armrests that form forceful angular geometry with the seat of the chair. The gentle curve of the Mies chair does much to decrease the tension that the cantilevered design imposes on the chair, whereas Stam's chair seems to feed off of that tension by channeling it into something akin to stature.


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