2020's Trendiest Chair Design Is Nearly a Century Old

Pairing sleek steel with traditional woven details, the Cesca chair feels as fresh and modern today as it did in the 1920s.

When beautiful design pairs with quality materials, certain furniture can have serious staying power. The Cesca chair, designed in 1928 by Hungarian architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer, is one such piece that's become a permanent fixture in the interior design world. Although you can hardly call the 90-year-old design a trend, the minimalistic chair has once again resurfaced in the Instagram feeds, dining rooms, and offices of the design-minded.

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Brian Anderson

The Cesca chair was revolutionary because of its unique shape and combination of materials. Inspired by the frame of a bicycle, Breuer crafted the cantilever base using tubular steel, an innovative material not typically used in furniture design at the time. He paired the sleek industrial frame with more traditional materials (beechwood and woven cane inserts) to create an unexpected mixed-material design that immediately garnered widespread attention.

Initially released under the name B32 and later renamed in honor of Breuer's daughter Francesca, the Cesca chair achieved peak popularity in the 1970s and '80s, the heyday of all things woven and rattan, explains design historian and author Amy Azzarito. Today, the chair has once again circled back into favor because of its modern, organic feel. "The juxtaposition of industrial and natural materials that made the chairs seem so new and fresh in the 1920s is still a look that we gravitate towards today," Azzarito says.

The chair's timeless style makes it a chameleon, blending well with a wide variety of design styles. "Cane is such a traditional material and the shape of the chair is quite modern and minimal, so it's a great one to incorporate with classic or modern pieces," says Alessandra Wood, design historian and vice president of style at online interior design service Modsy. The woven details can also fit with more eclectic boho-style decor or warm up sleek contemporary interiors.

Although it functions beautifully as a dining chair, the Cesca chair can also provide cozy seating in living spaces and home offices, too. The woven seat offers a comfy spot to land, while the artful frame makes it attractive as a standalone piece. Wood suggests using it in the corner of a bedroom, entryway, or hallway as a sculptural accent chair.

Now considered a collector's piece, licensed versions of the original chair are sold by Knoll to the tune of about $1,000. But because Breuer never patented his design, other furniture designers quickly adapted their own versions of the Cesca chair, which is why vintage replicas are now widely available for around $200 each. For the most authentic version, search on sites like Etsy or eBay for keywords such as "vintage Cesca chair" or "Marcel Breuer dining chair." The traditional model has an armless cane-and-beechwood frame, but you can also find styles with arms and upholstered seats. Many online retailers, such as Wayfair, also sell contemporary reproductions in a variety of styles.

Whether you're splurging on a full dining set or a single showpiece, this iconic chair makes a solid investment. After nearly a century-long run, the timeless style isn't going away any time soon.

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