René Herbst (1891-1982)
c. 1929
Nickel-plated metal, stretchers in rubber, cotton and nickel-plated metal
82 x 44 x 41 cm
Purchased with the support of the Hôtel Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection hotel, Paris, 2013
Inv. 2013.139.1
© MAD / photo: Jean Tholance

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The French designer René Herbst (1891-1982) created this chair model around 1929. It appeared in his work shortly after he began researching metal furniture design in 1926, the year when he presented a selection of industrially produced, all-steel office furniture at the Salon d’Automne, breaking with the traditional style of office furniture and demonstrating the new aesthetic possibilities of metal. René Herbst went on to develop models of metal seats made with corner irons and tubular metal. This chair, one of the first of his designs to attain a degree of completion, was later reproduced in many versions that feature in most of his pre-war interior designs. The principal originality of the design lies in the use of tubular metal for the structure – a new development in France – and of stretchers as elements of upholstery, apparently used here for the first time. This chair (which was only produced in small series and was not edited at the time of its design) is now regarded as an icon of French interwar modernist furniture and is one of René Herbst’s best known creations. It gained recognition when it was rediscovered and produced in large numbers, from 1982 on, by Ecart International.

R. B.

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