“Classicism was clearer and simpler in Prussia than elsewhere,” designer Dieter Rams once remarked on Schinkel’s New Pavilion on the grounds of Charlottenburg Palace (1824/25). While Schinkel’s approach to Classicism was a matter of (contemporary) style, it was above all else part of a comprehensive effort to create a designed environment, which contextualised buildings and gardens within an increasingly industrialised landscape with the aim, ultimately, of modernising the military-agrarian society that was Prussia.
Schinkel’s cast-iron garden chair, originally manufactured in the Königliche Eisengießerei zu Berlin, testifies to the rise of steam-powered industry in Prussia. An early example of mass production, the chair consists of just a few components and could be produced in unlimited quantities. Its sole function was to enhance outdoor recreation in Prussia’s gardens and parks – a pleasure in which the chair’s manufacturers would rarely have the opportunity to partake. The curving line of the chair’s side segments link it to a piece of furniture which was not designed until a nearly one hundred years later – re-editions of which have since become a status symbol in many conference rooms and apartments: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1928 design for an armchair for the German pavilion at the World Exhibition in Barcelona.