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The Cesca Chair - History, Design,Cane Care and Replacement

Updated: Feb 14

History of the Cesca Chair



The Cesca or the B32 Chair is truly a beloved chair.


Beech B32 Cesca Side chairs
Beech B32 Cesca Side chairs

The Chair is part of modern homes everywhere, with its everlasting design now almost 100 years old. The Chair has a beautiful simplicity to its design. Subtle curves balance the Chair; the light and airiness provided by a cantilevered form and caned seat and backrest seem to float in thin air.

Beech b32 Cesca Side chair
Beech B32 Cesca Side chair

In 1926, The handlebar of his Adler bicycle inspired the idea of the tubular frame. Breuer explored the strength and lightness of tubular metal with the Wassily chair, which had a seat and backrest made with leather.

In 1928, Michael Thonet first manufactured the Cesca chair using a design by Marcel Breuer, which was created shortly after Breuer left the Bauhaus. Breuer sought a material suitable for mass production that could also render an artful furniture form. Based on the principles of the Bauhaus and the material innovations, the simple design remains a highly sought-after classic.

Walnut B32 Cesca Side chair
Walnut Finish B32 Cesca Side chair


In 1929, German designer Michael Thonet, famous for creating wood bending techniques, began production of Breuer's design under the name B32.

Both designers were on trial for the authorship of the Chair.


Stam was the creator of the cantilever technique, and Thonet began producing his design in 1931 as the S43 Chair, which had leather for both the seat and backrest, not cane. After the trial, Thonet also began producing the B33 as a variant of the B32.

Breuer was the designer of the Cesca chair.


Ebonized Black S64 Armchair
Ebonized Black S64 Armchair

In the 1950s, The Italian firm Dino Gavina took over the Chair's production with Breuer's permission. The Chair was named the Cesca Chair after Breuer's adopted daughter, Francesca.


In 1968, The Knoll Group acquired the Gavina Factory and took over the production of the classic Chair. Knoll remains the only retailer from which you can buy a licensed Cesca chair. Since the design wasn't patented, it is accessible for other brands to adapt.

Restored Cesca Chair Made in Italy Stamp
Restored Cesca Chair Made in Italy Stamp

Cesca Chair Design

"There had never been a chair like it. It was structurally daring and embodied many key aspirations of modernist design equally applicable to architecture and furniture," said Christopher Wilk, curator at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. "It was made of an industrial material symbolic of the machine age and was visually transparent because materials were reduced to a minimum, giving it an abstract quality."

Walnut Finish B32 Cesca Side chair
Walnut Finish B32 Cesca Side chair

The Chair's revelatory use of material and straightforward form made it an international sensation—nothing like it existed. "Breuer simply changed the course of 20th-century furniture," commented J. Steward Johnson, Curator of the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Architecture and Design, leading up to the 1981 exhibition Marcel Breuer: Furniture and Interiors. "He is seminal. He started it all and made everything happen."

Ebonized Black S64 Armchair
Ebonized Black S64 Armchair

The structure is not just a means to a solution. It is also a principle and a passion.

Marcel Breuer

The unique cantilevered structure and simple design elements make the Cesca so unique. The lack of bracing creates a lighter-weight chair with some flex – not rigid and uncomfortable like many other chairs on the market. The single bent steel pipe also helps make the Chair lighter. The materials are readily available and accessible to acquire.

Ebonized Black S64 Armchair
Ebonized Black S64 Armchair

In recent years, the Cesca Chair has become more popular than ever. Breuer, who worked with Gavina and Knoll, made some design changes over the years. The curve of the Chair's back became shallower, and its bentwood frame was two pieces rather than one for strength; the seat's front edge did not slope as much as it did; the bolts were smaller.

The Cesca Chair, or the B32 Chair, holds a special place in modern furniture. Its timeless design has graced countless homes for nearly a century, with its elegant simplicity and airy aesthetic.


Cesca Chair Backs Mailed to Caning Canada for Cane Replacement
Cesca Chair Backs Mailed to Caning Canada for Cane Replacement

Caning Canada - Cesca Chair Cane Replacement



Caning Canada has gained extensive expertise in replacing handwoven cane and pre-cane in Cesca chairs. Caning Canada offers a convenient solution even if we're unavailable in your area. You can remove the cane surfaces from your chairs and mail them for professional replacement.




Cesca Seats Removed for Cane Replacement
Cesca Seats Removed for Cane Replacement

Cesca Chair Specifications & Modifications


The Cesca Chair achieved international fame due to its revolutionary use of materials and its unique cantilevered structure. It stood out from its contemporaries, embodying modernist design ideals and symbolizing the machine age with its industrial aesthetic and minimalist appeal. Christopher Wilk, a curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, described it as structurally daring and abstract.



Over the years, Breuer collaborated with companies such as Dino Gavina and Knoll, introducing slight design modifications to the Cesca Chair. The changes included:

  • A shallower curve in the back.

  • A two-piece bentwood frame for added strength.

  • Smaller bolts.

These variations contributed to the Chair's adaptability and popularity.


Back of Walnut Finish B32 Cesca Side Chair
Back of Walnut Finish B32 Cesca Side Chair

Look for several distinctive features to differentiate genuine Cesca chairs from counterfeit brands. The tubular steel frame of Cesca chairs remains consistent throughout, without any attachment points within the frame. The chairs have D-shaped legs that bend from the front to the back, and the seating platforms follow the same frame shape. The frame has a rectangular structure with rounded edges, creating a unique D-shape appearance. Additionally, Cesca chairs feature chrome-plated caps on the ends of the steel frame for protection and rubber or elastic floor protectors on the legs.


Sidechair Measurements:

· Height: 80 cm / 31.5 inch

· Width: 46.9 cm / 18.5 inch

· Depth: 59.6 cm / 23.5 inch


Armchair Measurements:

· Height: 80 cm / 31.5 inch

· Width: 59.6 cm / 23.5 inch

· Depth: 59.6 cm / 23.5 inch

· Arm Height: 68.5 cm / 27 inch


MATERIALS:

· Cane insets are either handwoven cane or pre-woven cane

· frame is a 1" diameter chrome-plated round steel tube with a polished finish

· Plastic glides snap into the base to protect floors

· Seat frame is solid beech with either clear natural lacquer or matte ebonized finish or a walnut


Cesca Cane Techniques


The majority of Cesca chairs are pre-woven cane like the photo below. The cane is installed into a grove and held in place with a trim called a spline.


Pre-Woven Cane
Pre-Woven Cane

Some Cesca chairs are made with handwoven cane, where individual strands of cane are handwoven through holes around the surface frame.


Handwoven Cane
Handwoven Cane

If a Cesca surface is handwoven cane, you likely won't see the holes in the back of the backrest. Typically, there would be a thin veneer hiding the holes, which may be a slightly different colour, and sometimes, you can detect it by running your fingernail across the width of the frame.


French or Blind Handwoven Cane
French or Blind Handwoven Cane

On occasion, like in this example, the surface is French caned or blind caned, meaning that the holes don't go through the chair's frame. Each cane stand is cut to size, handwoven, glued in the hole, and then to the surface pegged to complete the weave.



Frensh or Blind Caned Backrest which has been Pegged
Frensh or Blind Caned Backrest which has been Pegged


How to Clean Cane is Cesca Chairs


In terms of cleaning, cane chairs require a gentle approach.


1. Mix warm water with mild liquid soap or washing-up liquid.

2. Soak a clean, soft cloth into the solution.

3. Wipe the cane chair gently without pressing it too hard or allowing water to soak into the material.

4. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean dirt caught in the mesh fabric or between weaves.

5. Dry the mesh chair with a soft cloth.


Caning Canada Saving Woven Treasures
Caning Canada Saving Woven Treasures

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