Basculant chair by Le Corbusier
France, 1928

Basculant chair

basculant chair back photo

The Basculant has a frame of chromium-nickel-plated tubular steel, with calfskin seat and back, and leather strap arm rests. For the interiors of his own buildings, Le Corbusier originally chose chairs and other objects that he thought were so mass produced as to be virtually anonymous.

But later he and his office, notably Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, began to design furniture, of which this is one of the earliest examples. The Basculant appears to be in contrast with Le Corbusier's earlier idea, in that it has a comparatively complicated construction, and uses extravagant materials.

The formula of pliable elements supported by a simple strong frame in this way is possibly derived from the chairs used by British Army Officers in India and other early campaign furniture, but the problems here have been resolved in a very different way.

The curved section of the side frame bending towards the back seems a perfectly logical structural support, avoiding an awkward stress-bearing corner joint behind the seat. This side section enhances the impression that the chair is slung between the supporting legs. The whole simple profile makes the Basculant look more flexible than it in fact is. The front elevation, with two lateral spacer bars, beautifully clear verticals and long smooth strap arms ranged round the accommodating calf-skin seat and back, gives the impression of sturdiness, and, despite the chair's small scale, of a very spacious structure. The seat and back membranes are held under tension by a series of springs, and the back is pivoted to allow freedom of posture, from a slouch to an upright position.

The calfskin seat and back elements of the Basculant are held under tension by a row of steel springs, over the frame which is itself held in tension by bow pieces. The arm straps are simply looped over the turned tops of the leg tubes, with a small flange to retain them.

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