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The story behind Supreme's Wassily Chair

The New York brand revisited Marcel Breuer's iconic design

The story behind Supreme's Wassily Chair The New York brand revisited Marcel Breuer's iconic design

Le Corbusier famously said,  "Chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois". What the architect and designer meant was that only the chair can become an artistic object, but not the sofa, an object too "comfortable" and utilitarian to inspire a creative. Supreme seems to have taken the French architect by the word because he recreated, in partnership with Knoll, the iconic seat designed by Marcel Breuer: the Knoll Wassily x Supreme Chair. A photo of the leopard version of the iconic seat appeared yesterday on Supreme's Instagram page accompanied by a date: December 12th.

The 1925 Wassily Chair, also known as the Model B3, was created at the age of 23 by Breuer during his years at the Bauhaus in Dessau, inspired by bicycle flyers for the now famous tubular structure of the seat. The name "Wassily" comes not from a dedication to the painter Kandisky, as is often believed, but from the Italian company Gavina who, restarting its production in the 1960s, and knowing of the friendship that bound the two artists (Breuer had in fact created a second version of the chair specifically for the painter) renamed it this way. The first line produced by Thonet was made not with leather but with the Eisengarn, a durable industrial fabric invented by Grete Reichardt, at the time a student at the design school who later became a textile artist and graphic designer. The Thonet version of the chair is very rare, since the production finished before World War II. After the war the Italian company Gavina bought the rights to the chair and began to produce it in the current leather version. When American Knoll bought Gavina in 1968, the Wassily Chair leather production continued.

The Knoll Wassily x Supreme Chair represents one of the highest points of the brand's collaborations, far from both clothing and common object production. It also represents a decisive departure from the classic modus operandi of the brand that usually ironically "elevates" trivial and everyday objects (other Supreme chairs are the classic director chair and the inflatable chair for the pool) and that instead now takes a piece of design already synonymous with sophistication and elegance and "vulgarizes" it, so to speak, through a leopard print that, despite being part of the Supreme DNA, appears deliberately camp and tacky.

Whether it's high contemporary design or artistic sacrilege, Supreme's Wassily Chair is bound to cause debate. The drop will take place next Thursday, December 12th, on Supreme's website.