Main content

Basculant chair (model B 301), 1929

Le Corbusier (1887-1965)

Le Corbusier and Thonet Brothers Inc. 
Chrome-plated tubular steel and canvas, 
64.8 x 64.8 x 64.8 cm 
Adolfo Autric Collection 
© Fondation Le Corbusier 
© F.L.C. / VEGAP 2020

Read Transcription

A reclining seat and back, upholstered in leather and supported by a structure made from steel tubing: these are the elements required to create a highly unusual chair, thereby revolutionizing the traditional conception of domestic design, and incorporating the procedures of industrial manufacture into the process of producing furniture. This innovation also served to bring about a historic disruption in the early years of the 20th century. The man who designed this chair and caused the disruption was the Swiss-born Le Corbusier, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. 

 

The keys to this radical renovation lie in breaking away from the models that came before, reflecting on the function of the piece, and considering the elements that are required in order to fulfill this function. These processes were adopted by Le Corbusier: for each of the chair’s functions, for each use case and for each position of the human body he designed an object-type that was adapted to suit the need in question. To achieve this, he also took into account the chair’s suitability for the space in which it would be used, and created a series of standardized measurements that served as a template and could be combined in innumerable forms, thereby attaining an originality based on the magic of mathematics. 

 

The aesthetic of avant-garde furniture aimed to boost functionality and to enable the study of ergonomic needs, so that the products that were manufactured were a perfect match for the functionality they were created to address. In fact, Le Corbusier – an architect and painter who admired Picasso – believed that functional objects should not incorporate ornamentation. This piece is a good example, as the beauty of the chair resides not in the handcrafted decoration, but in the simplicity of its form: the technical perfection attained in the manufacture of the steel tubes and the welcoming appearance of a chair made from high-quality leather.