This 1920s Chair Is the Love Child of Mysticism and Czech Cubism

Commissioned for an estate in Germany, it was influenced by the teachings of an Austrian philosopher with an interest in the occult.
Camillo Cerri Important Cubist Armchair Designed for Haus Reinbach
Camillo Cerri Cubist armchair, 1928

Created by Milanese designer Camillo Cerri, this robust piece is more than a mere chair. It’s a manifesto derived from the work of influential Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), who was also an architect, social reformer, educator, occultist and self-styled clairvoyant, when he wasn’t designing furniture.

The one-of-a-kind seat, offered by Kabinet Hubert, located in the Dutch city of The Hague, is handcrafted of birch and devoid of metal joinery. A refinement on an earlier Steiner piece, it was designed by Cerri as part of his 1928 commission to furnish the entire interior of Haus Reinbach, a private estate in Stuttgart, Germany, built by architect Otto Moser, a member of Steiner’s inner circle.

Like the house for which it was conceived, the chair, with its fusion of geometric angles and more rounded forms, is considered a visual expression of the connection between intellectual and spiritual realms posited in anthroposophy, Steiner’s humanistic philosophy.

“The chair is a love child of Steiner’s anthroposophical style and Czech Cubism,” the prewar Central European style known for its sharp angles, says Jan-Clemens Hoek, co-owner and gallery director of Kabinet Hubert. “Czech Cubism takes the pyramid shape as a starting point, while with Steiner, it was more of a sculptural, crystalline shape leading to more organic forms.”

Even in its day, furniture associated with the anthroposophical movement was niche, Hoek says. “It’s a rarity, really, resembling very little else stylistically.”

Despite an origin story with supernatural overtones, the unique chair, its assertive angles softened somewhat by new upholstery in period-appropriate Art Deco fabric, remains quintessentially sturdy seating, very much grounded in three dimensions.


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