Wagner was the architect of the Österreichische Postsparkasse (Imperial Austrian Postal Savings Bank) constructed in Vienna from 1904 to 1906. Co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte and one of the earliest proponents of functionalist design in the twentieth century, he designed this armchair for the bank’s board room from two materials that had never been used in this upper-class environment before: bentwood and aluminum. Wagner used aluminum for both decorative and protective purposes, just as eighteenth-century cabinetmakers had used gilt bronze.
Designer Otto Wagner, Austrian, 1841-1918
Manufacturer Gebrüder Thonet
  • Chair
Date between 1904 and 1906
Medium beechwood, plywood, aluminum
Dimensions Overall: 30 1/2 × 22 × 18 1/2 inches (77.5 × 55.9 × 47 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. George Kamperman Fund and Honorarium and Memorial Gifts Fund
Accession Number 1985.3
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View Modern N2AA, Level 2 (see map)
Vienna Postal Savings Bank [Österreichische Postsparkasse] (Vienna, Austria);
(Gunther Stefan Asenbaum, Vienna, Austria);
(Donald Morris Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, USA);
1985-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Mang, K. "Geschichte des modernen Mobels." Stuttgart, 1978, p. 46 and 83 (ill.).

Taragin, D. "From Vienna to the Studio Craft Movement." Apollo 124, no. 298 (December 1986): pp. 79-80 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA 62, no. 2 (1985): p. 9 (fig. 7).

"Moderne Vergangenheit, Vienna 1800-1900." Catalogue. 1981, p. 265 (ill.) p. 206.

Holz, Gebogenes. "Konstruktive Entwurfe, Vienna 1840-1910."

Exh. cat., Museum Villa Stuck. Munich, 1979, p. 59.