Everything Old Is New Again

By Marcia Faye
Cesca Chair

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Chicago Bauhaus. In 2019 the original Bauhaus will observe its centennial. Martin Thaler, Institute of Design studio professor, offered the course Bauhaus Futures this past spring in anticipation of the 100th anniversary. His students selected three Bauhaus classics—the Dell Wine Jug, the Wagenfeld Lamp, and the Cesca Chair—and reconsidered their underlying design principles then applied the social and cultural context for today. They began the workshop by examining the actual artifacts, which included a visit to the archival collections of the Art Institute of Chicago.

With its simple but sturdy tubular steel frame, the Cesca Chair, designed by Bauhaus master Marcel Breuer in the 1920s, used the new manufacturing technology of bending tubular steel. Working from Breuer’s maxim, “Let our dwelling have no particular style,” Thaler’s students Andrew Bates (DSGN 2nd year) and Isabel Dec (DSGN 2nd year) created the Basis Chair guided by their user research: People live in less space, move often, and combine home and work lives. Their result is a versatile piece of furniture that can function as either a chair or a table surface, ready to take users into the next 100 years.