Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Origins of Wednesday xvi: Economy of humanism

The MR lounge chair was
introduced in 1927 at an
industrial design exhib-
ition in Stuttgart, as a
tour de force in econom-
ical materials for mass
production of seating.

That didn't last long.
This chair was not the
first of its kind, and
it shared an institu-
tional derivation with
some others crafted for
the same reason. Here,
however, an unexpected
quality of almost ethic-
al contradiction emerged.

In this chair by Ludwig
Mies van der Rohe, that 
first motive was so in-
stantly subordinated by
the éclat of its recep-
tion, as strikingly elo-
quent sculpture of con-
genial yet emphatic dis-
dain of mass, while sud-
denly, belting leather
and resilient steel were
shown to support such a
visible comfort, despite
their arresting profile
and absolute clarity of
line, as to announce a
new epoch in taste, per
se; the chair became,
and has remained an ac-
coutrement but also al-
most an emblem, of both
the disciplined and the 
epicurean mentality. To
the exercise of sustain-
ing these two qualities
within the same mind, it 
brings the fulfillment of
of architecture itself.

Tim Schuhmacher

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