Best Seats in the House: The Bauhaus Archives Survey the History of "Chairs Without Legs," From Panton to Gehry

Alexander Begge, Kinderstuhl Casa Lino, 1971
(Courtesy The International Design Museum Munich (A. Laurenzo))

Verner Panton’s revolutionary S-Chair made its debut in 1960, and its sensual, gravity-defying form has not only graced the cover of Vogue, it's been relentlessly copied ever since. The most iconic of cantilevered chairs is currently on view at the Bauhaus Archives' matter-of-factly titled “Chairs Without Legs” show in Berlin, along with other design classics dating from the Bauhaus days to the last decade. 

The Archives invited the International Design Museum Munich to exhibit its collection of 25 innovative takes on an otherwise ordinary piece of furniture as the archive's guest.  The collection is an almost irreverent celebration of mundane household objects transformed through creative thinking, boundary-pushing technological advances, and new production methods. Innovators like Bauhaus faculty members Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe created S-chair predecessors in the 1920s from metal tubing, transferring the central tenets of lightness and transparency from their architecture into seating.

Other highlights include Frank Gehry’s very aptly named Wiggle Side Chair, from 1972. Made from molded cardboard to rest on a folded base, it brings to mind a falling ribbon or icing being squeezed onto a cake. There’s also Ernst Moeckl’s 1971, strangely anthropomorphic Stapelstuhl Variopur, the feet of which appear ready to spring, and Stefan Heiliger’s 2005 question-mark shaped Sitzobjek, a contemporary piece ARTINFO imagines was inspired by "The Jetsons."

"Chairs Without Legs" is on view at the Bauhaus archives through June 10. To see more cantilevered seating, click the slide show