Cantilever Chair Museum
Who would expect, behind this bulky name, to find a place that has fully devoted itself to floating and swinging, where one dreams of weightless sitting? Some describe Tecta as a work of art in its entirety.
Anyone who enters the grounds of the firm which was shaped by the english architecture couple Alison and Peter Smithson will find themselves in a sculpture park. In front the manufactory, then the delicate Wewerka Pavilion, across three museum halls looking like glass combs: A steel work, painted white on the inside and a fiery red on the outside, with uniquely high support and chairs positioned at their tips. “The Ten Chairs of Lauenförde” is the name of the installation that corresponds with a red lattice tower, the entrance to the “Tecta Landscape”.
Daniela Drescher opens up the museums halls this morning. Here lies the collection compiled by Axel Bruchhäuser all about the cantilever chair that is today carefully continued by his nephew Christian Drescher and his wife Daniela Drescher. “Master forms of the modern era” stand beside “Anonymous Aristocrats” – almost 100 years of design history that have a connection to the firm Tecta are being told.
“This is a bit like a free flight hall for seating furniture,” explains Daniela Drescher in the first hall, “colourful and slightly chaotic at first glance. But when considered more closely one quickly determines that there are many similarities,” says the museum director, “and hence Peter Smithson’s thought of the ‘families of chairs’ comes to fruition. The collection resembles a large family get-together, where each chair has its own story and is connected to the others in a special way.” In this way, new products join the historical exhibition pieces. Here, the universe of the firm Tecta presents itself in a colourful and timely interplay.
4 March until 9 December
Fri 10 to 12 am & 2 to 5 pm
Sat 10 am to 2 pm
Public holidays / Museum closed
16. & 17.09.2022
09.12.2022 – 28.02.2023
Adults: 7,00 Euro
Reduced*: 5.00 euros
Digital museum guides can be borrowed.
*applies to pupils and students.
Children up to 10 years of age pay no admission!
“The static architecture of the Egyptian pyramids has been overcome: our architecture rolls, swims, flies. It will sway and float in the air. I want to help to invent and form this new reality.”
Master forms of the Modern Era
Alison and Peter Smithson
The cantilever collection documents the development of the “chair without rear legs” from the stiff cantilever construction to the springy cantilever chair. The Jean Prouvé Archive visualises the construction principles of the French engineer and architect with over 100 originals.
In the collection Master Forms of the Modern Era chair originals from Schinkel’s cast iron chairs until Wewerka’s pieces from the 80’s of the 20th century are represented.
The collection Anonymous Aristocrats entails found pieces of anonymous designers that are in no way inferior to those of their famous coevals.
The Alison and Peter Smithson Archive and the Wewerka Studio entail numerous pieces, prototypes and series products.
The TECTA exhibition shows the models of the new TECTA collection across more than 1000 square metres.
in the cantilever chair museum
A piece of furniture that went down in history: the cantilever chair. A technical revolution and a symbol for the new era. The setting out and the floating that animated artists and architects of the 20’s the same.
For decades Axel Bruchhäuser, founder of the cantilever collection, compiled the development of the cantilever chair: “For me it was the instinctive search for the master form of the steel tube chair,” he says. “I was interested to find out the idea out of which the cantilever chair arose.” The name “cantilever chair” was substantiated by Heinz Rasch, one of the idea givers, with the architectural construction of timbered houses that stretch beyond the top floor to carry a gazebo. This is how the name for a piece of furniture that makes do and appears completely weightless with merely two instead of four legs came to be.
– Alvar Aalto
– Aagaard Andersen
– Alfred Arndt
– Marcel Breuer
– Ray und Charles Eames
– Walter Gropius
– Hugo Häring
– El Lissitzky
– Hannes Meyer
– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
– Charlotte Perriand
– Jean Prouvé
– Heinz Rasch
– Gerrit Rietveld
– Alison & Peter Smithson
– Mart Stam
– Vladimir Tatlin
– Guiseppe Terragni
– Stefan Wewerka
– Sergius Ruegenberg
Where chairs take flight: Tecta’s Cantilever Chair Museum
An Interview with Daniela and Christian Drescher
A minor sensation hides behind the name of the “Cantilever Chair Museum” – none other than the world’s only museum devoted to the development of a chair without back legs, the cantilever chair. A universal work of art featuring exhibits that can confidently hold their own with the world’s major design collections. And this is also a place where things are constantly evolving. Tecta’s Managing Director Christian Drescher and his wife Daniela Drescher, who now directs the Cantilever Chair Museum, tell us where the path will lead following the renovation.
The Cantilever Chair Museum was founded in 1979 – why?
Christian Drescher: After taking over Tecta from Hans Könecke, Axel Bruchhäuser wanted to produce Bauhaus furniture under licence. Simply put, he needed the originals in order to learn how to manufacture them faithfully and as intended by their creators in serial production. This was how he laid the foundations for the collection. Medieval Beverungen Castle was home to the collection until 2000. But then it grew to such an extent that it was only logical to build a museum of our own. In 2003 we moved to the new museum halls designed by Peter Smithson on the huge premises, the Tecta Landscape. And here the collection has a three-fold mission: to serve as a museum, company archives and showroom at the same time.
The Museum has an extraordinary name – how did this come about?
Christian Drescher: The museum has a close connection with Tecta’s work. At the beginning there was some legal uncertainty about the copyrights and rights of use of the cantilever chair. Axel Bruchhäuser searched for contemporary witnesses and tried to reconstruct the history of the chair. During his quest he met the Gropius family, Marcel Breuer, Sergius Ruegenberg, Mart Stam, Jean Prouvé and published the book The Cantilever Chair, which is part of the primary literature on the subject. The more his cantilever chair collection grew, the more knowledge he acquired about the history of its invention. The quintessence of the museum became visible: the development of the cantilever chair.
Why do you think the Cantilever Chair Museum is not a museum in the strict sense?
Daniela Drescher: One of the special things about the collection is the place where it is presented and the element of surprise. Many visitors would never expect to find a modernist collection in such a provincial setting, in the countryside. You can see the exhibits both from the outside and inside and they interact with the environment and architecture. Peter Smithson thought of “families of chairs”. This leitmotif is mirrored by the layout of the museum. Our exhibits find their niches in the room and relate to each other like at a big family reunion. There are closer and more distant relationships and each one has a certain connection with all the others.
Can our relationship with the act of sitting still be depicted in a contemporary way?
Daniela Drescher: The collection itself is timeless and sitting is still a very popular topic in our modern world. Many visitors are surprised at the age of some of our exhibits, because the designs look so contemporary and familiar. So, in many cases they still relate to modern life, which is emphasised by the fact that we show parts of our production that are manufactured right next door.
Your products, your protagonists, are now being showcased in a fresh manner. Why was it time to redesign the museum?
Christian Drescher: We followed Peter Smithson’s concept of an “Art Barn” that offers easy access to the collection. Of course, you cannot sit on the exhibits but they are unusually approachable for the visitor, they are not on pedestals or in display cases. But we also wanted to use Smithson’s ideas of families of chairs and their relationships. So we moved exhibits that formerly stood in rows along the walls more towards the centre of the room, regrouped them and enabled them to interact. In addition, we added a typographic text level.
Daniela Drescher: In addition, the museum halls that had been designed with a focus on transparency, had simply become too crowded. We sorted out things, put some of the exhibits into storage, removed the original sisal carpet and replaced it by a waxed free floating screed. The new floor with its matte sheen emphasises the airiness and transparency of the architecture. This allows the gaze to wander until it is automatically drawn to the details.
A museum without walls – how does it work?
Christian Drescher: The Cantilever Chair Museum is probably the only museum that does without any white walls but is completely glazed and features a steel lattice structure. This allows for complex views from the outside into the interior and vice versa. The exhibits, the museum – everything seems to be flying and in constant motion. As we didn’t want to do without explanatory texts after the museum’s redesign, we opted for a concrete floor where the contents guide the visitor through the collection with graphics and colour designs.
The museum is part of the Tecta Landscape. What does this mean?
Daniela Drescher: The Tecta Landscape is an industrial and landscape park that has grown over the years. Many small and larger interventions, be it in the architecture of the company buildings or landscape planning concepts, were implemented in a long-term process by the architects Alison & Peter Smithson. With the Cantilever Chair Museum Alison & Peter Smithson had completed their work on the landscape. We are still in close contact with their descendants, who are looking after the legacy of their parents with great sensitivity. Simon Smithson, their son and a successful architect in his own right, designed an outdoor platform between the museum and company buildings in 2006 and created a space with magnificent views that is now the new focus of the Tecta Landscape. All this is supplemented by the recently completed renovation and conversion of the offices and company headquarters by Andree Weißert. The Berlin-based architect was able to reveal new and surprising views of the landscape park. By painting the steel beams in the offices red he made them relate to the red of the museum.
The collection of the Cantilever Chair Museum is constantly evolving. What is your goal for the next ten years?
Christian Drescher: One goal is to update the collection. After all, everything is in motion – constructive ideas and new materials make new designs possible. We will examine and explore them to find contemporary solutions. The museum always shows the essence of what we are currently working on, it’s all about a constant evolution. Especially in our younger visitors we still see a great fascination for modernist ideas and objects today. We would like to cultivate and foster that. Making the museum more open is also part of this. The Tecta Landscape should be a vibrant place. It should inspire and enable a creative and constructive dialogue.
From Bauhaus to Nowhaus
June 15th 2019
In the anniversary year of the Bauhaus, Tecta rebuilt the cantilever chair museum and reopened the newly conceptualised and suspensefully produced exhibition with a big party. Each of the three museum halls was christened with a corresponding piece of music, masterfully delivered by the “TenHagen Quartett”. Guided in this way, the guests were able to learn about and discover the exhibition piece by piece.
The cantilever chair museum shows around 500 exhibits that are devoted to the theme of weightless sitting. A theme of a century, as Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius formulated correctly, “to overcome the weightlessness of the earth in impact and appearance by floating.” What can be seen is an exhibition supported by media stations, iPad guides, films and interviews that need not hide behind international design collections. We are looking forward to your visit to Lauenförde!