by Jean Prouvé
Why Jean Prouvé called this chair Standard, is a mystery. The chair with metal frame and curved wooden seat is everything but standard. Unless the designer was referring to the multifunctional aspect of this standard chair: an attractive, timeless and comfortable chair for at the dining table, in the office or in the kitchen.
Prouvé, renowned for his desire to innovate, became infatuated in 1930 with, what would become his favourite material: sheet steel. Unlike what was common in the Bauhaus movement, Prouvé did not use metal merely for tubular frames, but started to experiment with sheet steel. A dining room chair bears most of the body’s weight at the back, where it is supported, was his reasoning. That is where the chair should be strengthened. He achieved this by folding the sheet still in the shape of a fin, according to the latest techniques of that time, which were able to hold the weight, but due to this hollow structure, the chairs were still lightweight. At the front, only thin tubular legs sufficed. The seat and backrest are made from lacquered oak, curving downwards at the front to enhance seating comfort.
The result? A modern classic that is now being produced by Vitra and continues to sell well. The chair may not strike anyone as a comfortable one, but it provides a fantastic sitting experience. The oak wood appears warm and soft and is shaped to provide hours of sitting pleasure.