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What Is the Story Behind the Natural Cane Chair?

25 Aug 2022


  1. The Chandigarh Chair
  2. Pierre Jeanneret and the natural cane chair
  3. Éric Touchaleaume and the natural cane chair

Whenever you sit down to rest, have you ever wondered how the comfortable chair beneath you was designed to be the way it is now?

In fact, there is a history behind every piece of furniture.

Today I want to share a story about the natural cane chair.

Way2Furn sells such a chair not only because of its high value, but also because it is a sequel to a classic.

2 solid wood natural cane chair - Way2Furn

Size: 32.5'' H x 16.75'' W x 20.5'' D

The Chandigarh Chair

Originally known as the Chandigarh Chair, it is a cane chair with armrests.

The Chandigarh Chair was born in the 1950s.

Its name originated from a new Indian utopian city.

Designed by Pierre Jeanneret, hence also the name PJ Chair.

You may not have heard of the name, but you must have heard of Le Corbusier, one of the most famous architects of the 20th century.

A man who sit at a natural cane chair read a book

In March 1947, the Mountbatten Plan was announced, and India and Pakistan were partitioned. Lahore, the former capital of the Punjab, became part of Pakistan in this plan.

As a result, Punjab needed a new capital to replace Lahore, and India's first planned city, Chandigarh, was born.

A man who sit at a natural cane chair make a design.

Initially Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, approached Albert Mayer and had come up with a proposal for this. However, when his deputy died in a plane crash, he felt unable to complete the project and decided to withdraw.

In 1951, Le Corbusier was approached by the Indian government on recommendation.

After several communications, a contract was signed with Le Corbusier in Paris, entrusting him with the master planning of the new city, as well as the architectural design of the administrative center.

At this time, India had just become independent and still needed to recover. But a newly independent nation needed such "demonstration projects" to inspire national self-confidence.

A hydropower station

To complete this great project, Le Corbusier asked his cousin Pierre Jeanneret for help. Pierre Jeanneret, then, moved to India from 1951 to 1965 to oversee the execution of the project.

During this period, Pierre Jeanneret, together with Le Corbusier, created a large number of architectural works, including municipal projects, schools, houses, etc.

a lot of small picture about the natural wood furniture

Chandigarh furniture series

And one of Pierre Jeanneret's independent jobs is to develop complementary furniture for architectural projects. During this time, he designed more than 50 different pieces of furniture to suit local characteristics, including the Chandigarh chair.

A man smoking when he sit at a natual wood chair

Pierre Jeanneret and the natural cane chair

Pierre Jeanneret was born in 1896 in Geneva, Switzerland. As a teenager, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown of Geneva, and after graduating, he worked in the studio of the Perret brothers in Paris.

In 1922, he officially began working with Le Corbusier in his studio at 35 rue Sèvres in Paris. From then on, the two names would be forever linked, especially on those landmark projects.

Pierre Jeanneret has a very low-profile personality and, although he has worked on many projects with Le Corbusier, he always takes a back seat and is extremely modest.

In many places of architects or collectors, it is common to see his furniture works.

The inverted V-shaped chair feet or table feet are the characteristics of his design, and the rustic warmth reflects the personality of Pierre Jeanneret.

Two man discuss when they sit at the natural wood chair

Pierre Jeanneret and Corbusier discussing the Chandigarh project

Around 1955, after repeated comparisons and selection, Pierre Jeanneret designed and produced the Chandigarh chair with strong and durable V-shaped legs, using Burmese teak wood, which is conducive to moisture and insect resistance, and cane, which can maintain good breathability.

A vintage solid wood cane chair

Indians have a habit of sitting on the floor, and the Chandigarh chair series was designed with the idea of "giving the citizens of Chandigarh a chair to sit on".

Once the Chandigarh chair was mass-produced, it was first used in large numbers in the executive offices of the Capitol. That's why it was also called "Office Chair".

A list of solid wood natural cane chairs

But the popularity did not last long, and with the local preference for modern design, the Chandigarh chair began to receive a cold reception and was abandoned on a large scale.

The Chandigarh chairs were abandoned all over the city, from the roof of the High Court to the balcony of the Administration Building.

Chandigarh chairs are often sold as scrap for just a few rupees.

The buyers of these chairs are usually local carpenters who take the chairs apart and reuse the wood because the teak used in the chairs has become increasingly expensive.

Too many natural wood furnitures show

Éric Touchaleaume and the natural cane chair

According to the general law of development, the Chandigarh chair, which does not conform to the development and aesthetics of the times, can only be retired.

It will remain silently "lying" in the abandoned corners of the city until it is fully retired from the stage of history.

In 1999, however, the fate of the Chandigarh chair, which had been on 'death row' for decades, took a dramatic turn.

French furniture antiques dealer Éric Touchaleaume learned from some news reports that the Chandigarh chairs had been abandoned in piles.

Two smile men carry the solid wooden natural cane chairs

He saw an opportunity and went to Chandigarh to buy Chandigarh chairs in large quantities.

The name "Le Corbusier" plays a big part in this.

Éric Touchaleaume spent about seven years restoring and finishing these furniture before bringing them to the United European Auction House to promote the exhibition.

Thus, the Chandigarh chair returned to the limelight once again and regained widespread attention.

Solid Wooden Chairs list at the office

The second key reason for the return of the Chandigarh chair was the documentary "Provenance", which was broadcast in 2013.

two small cute natural cane chairs as a model

The film was originally filmed to "trace the footsteps of the master", documenting Chandigarh furniture in an anti-narrative way.

From the auction house, to the buyers, to the origin of Chandigarh, India, the process of recording capital flows and artistic ups and downs.

The broadcast of the documentary has reignited the Chandigarh craze worldwide.

Today, the Chandigarh chair is highly sought after by collectors, designers and furniture lovers all over the world, and is one of the common pieces found in many stylish and tasteful home designs.

solid wood modern natural cane chair - Way2Furn
black solid wood modern cane chair - Way2Furn

The Way2Furn design team also wanted to pass on this classic, hence our current --the natural cane chair, is on sale.

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