Discover interior ideas » Extras » Background Information » Design history: The F51 armchair…

Design history: The F51 armchair
in Walter Gropius’ director’s office

© Tecta
© Tecta

Designed for the “Great Bauhaus Exhibition” in 1923, Walter Gropius’ director’s office is considered the world’s first holistic spatial composition of the modern era. It was conceived as a showroom of an ideal study, accommodating a seating area as well as a workspace with a chair and desk. In the strictly cubist 5 x 5 x 5 m room, an additional cube was defined as a “quiet zone” and marked out by a square carpet as well as a carefully considered arrangement of the items of furniture – all of which follow the cubic design and are characterised by right angles. In terms of height, this room within the room was delimited by festoon lamps. Overlooked for many decades, the director’s office was reconstructed by the Bauhaus University in the course of the renovation of its main building in 1997 and fitted out as a usable workspace.

Walter Gropius designed a series of formal objects to furnish his room. The designs followed strict geometric principles: lines and stripes, cubes and squares. As the archetype of cubic furniture and precursor to the modern cantilever chair, the F51 armchair was one of the key design elements in the director’s office. The original design combined voluminous cushions with a completely new structure, with the result that the chair looked like a cube into which a seat has been cut. Only on second glance was it revealed that the chair has been assembled from various differently sized, rectangular, interlocking blocks.

© Tecta
© Tecta

The compact armchair has no rear leg, so its back does not touch the ground. The wooden frame that forms the load-bearing cantilever arm is a particular feature of the chair. Here, Gropius is thought to have continued the idea of the meander, which can also clearly be seen in the rest of Gropius’ room. A 5 x 5 cm frame profile is, in effect, “doubled” in the back and under the armrests and, on the ground, simply runs around the base. Despite its compactness and solidity, the cantilever arm support lends this designer furniture an almost floating appearance. In addition to two armchairs, the seating area in the director’s office also comprises a sofa, the original of which was upholstered with a coarse, yellow fabric.

In its faithful reproduction, Tecta has reimagined the icon of the Bauhaus School in rich colours. The seating furniture, originally in muted colours, is now available in 141 shades – from bright emerald green, fuchsia or azure to elegant shades of grey, hues of crimson or plum and inky notes. There are also seven upholstery choices, ranging from velvety cotton velours to pure wool, leather or cavalry twill.

Further information about Walter Gropius you will find here.