They’re constantly propping us up, there for us when we’re tired, and we sit on them everyday of our lives, but take little notice of them – chairs.
That’s right, we’re dedicated this article to chairs, and there ain’t nobody that can stop us 😉 Vienna, and Austria as a whole, has seen the likes of many talented designers living within its midst, and many of them created chairs that have stood the test of time, and can still be found all of Vienna, and the world.
We had Sebastian Hackenschmidt, curator of the MAK‘s furniture and woodwork collection, give us some fascinating facts about some of the very chairs that can found still standing tall (well, some are kind of short) in Vienna’s hotels, homes, restaurants etc. No doubt you’ll recognise a few:
Stuhl No. 14
Designers: Gebrüder Thonet
This model was known as the ‘coffeehouse chair’ and was, at some point, the most sold piece of furniture worldwide to come out of Austria. It was actually the world’s first mass-produced piece of furniture!
It is also the most famous from the family that was a big name in chairs, Thonet.
Originated in: 1859
Glory years: Up until 1930, close to 50 million of these chairs were sold thanks to its low production costs..Just imagine how many are out there today being sat on!
Now often spotted in Vienna… in traditional Viennese coffeehouses, and also cafes around the world
Designers: Josef Hoffman
This chair injected a new twist into chair design, with its curved and square-ish bentwood frame. It’s a super picturesque model, with its design kind of reminding us of a picture frame. The chair was originally design by Hoffman for the dining room, and the adjoining veranda, of the Sanatorium Westend in Purkersdorf.
Originated in: 1904
Glory years: Popular during the Secession period and during the prime years of the architects/ designers, Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner.
Now often spotted in Vienna…As a collectible at the dinner table. There’s plenty of space to move around with this ‘no arms’ model.
Designers: Josef Hoffman (maybe, no one is really sure)
This broad, semi-circular chair known as, ‘the Fledermaus’ chair (aka. the bat chair) was designed for the Fledermaus Cabaret location in the center of Vienna that stands today as a nightclub.
Originated in: 1907
Glory years: Between the 19th and 20th century’s Art Nouveau era aka Jugendstil
Now often spotted in Vienna…as a triple set arrangement, with a small table in the middle. They can often be found in living rooms, in their different variations, and in hotels.
Freischwinger (translation: Cantilever chair)
Designers: Gebrüder Thonet, Marcel Breuer
Developed at the art institute, Bauhaus, the use of steel pipe made these models seem like chairs for war. It’s one of the first chairs to stray from the typical four-legged structure. Instead, it has one continuous steel tube leg.
The Austrian architect Josef Frank noted: ‘Steel isn’t a material, but a worldview…the God, who grew iron didn’t want wooden furniture.’
(this is a translation, of course by Josef Frank)
Originated in: around 1920s
Now often spotted in Vienna… in living rooms and offices
Designers: Roland Rainer
This has to be one of the most iconic chairs ever to have bums seated on it in Vienna. Once designed for the Stadthalle, they’ve been floating around the city ever since as a much desired item. The chair’s design of a back rest made up of holes and a smooth wooden surface made for a cool modern look in its time, and it still obviously holds this cool factor.
Originated in: early 1950s
Glory years: between the 50s and 60s – also known as the ‘Stadthalle chairs’ as Rainer designed and commissioned the pieces for the Wiener Stadthalle, which just so happened to be also designed by him.
Now often spotted in Vienna… stacked against a wall waiting for the next event at Wiener Stadthalle, in many modern cafes, in the homes of many living in Vienna with a fetish for beautiful chairs.
Designer: Adolf Loos
The scissors chair was designed by the Austrian architect, Adolf Loos, and found housing in the 4th district apartment of the wealthy factory owner, Paul Mayer.
We’re not too sure how your bum will feel after sitting on this vintage piece for several hours, but if it was good enough for old Paul, it’s good enough for us. This is also probably the most expensive chair in this list.
So, to be honest, you probably won’t see these fine specimen in hotels and cafes around town, but it’s just such a unique seating invention that happened here in Vienna that we couldn’t leave it out of the list.
Designer: Josef Hoffman
A classic amongst classics that at first glance, doesn’t really scream, ‘please, sit on me!’
Even though the so-called, ‘sitting machine’ isn’t an actual machine (although it might look like one for torture) the mechanical adjustments of the chair’s backrest was a pretty snazzy trick to show visitors at home back in 1905.
This is another of the chairs in this list that are super expensive collectors items, so you may not necessarily see one outside of some rich person’s home, or in a museum.