Collapsible tubular steel lounge chair with fabric covering 1926/27
The B4, as this collapsible version was first known (it is now known as Tecta D4) was advertised in Breuer’s first tubular steel catalogue in 1927, and designed for rooms similar to those advocated by Giedion. According to the catalogue this chair was »particularly suitable for ships, patios, summer houses, gardens, garden cafés, etc.« In fact, the B4 proved itself far superior to the Wassily model, which, despite the fact that it could be pushed on runners unlike conventional lounge chairs and was greatly reduced in volume, took up a lot of space. The collapsible model, which is the truly mobile piece, has the advantage of taking up space only when it is being used. Otherwise it frees up space.
This exemplifies the progression from constructivism to construction. While the B4 has some similar angles to Gerrit Rietveld’s red and blue chair, the fixed surfaces are replaced by a steel-thread fabric that is yielding yet holds its form, and is dyed rather than colour-coated. Moreover, the tubular steel material and the visible joints represent the change in technical conditions of production from craftsmanship to industrial design as well as the social transformation in Germany from monarchy to republic. Finally, the B4 does not represent the status of the owner, but rather serves the requirement of its user.
In 1980, the chair was officially added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A unique copy of the first chair, featuring Peter Keler’s horsehair fabric, is held in the permanent collection of the Cantilever Chair Museum/Tecta Archive in Lauenförde. On 1st October 1979, shortly before his death, Marcel Breuer remarked on the creation and exhibition of these ear-ly works in a letter to Tecta: »It’s like an old forgotten dream.«
Material & Colour
Frame: nickel-plated steel tube
Seat and armrests: fabric, leather, iron thread, saddle leather or cow-hide
Seat height: 44