Steel, style and status: the economics of the cantilever chair, 1929-1936
The cantilever chair is an iconic consumer product of the twentieth century and stands for a modern, progressive lifestyle. It is expensive, often used to furnish exclusive spaces and thereby the opposite of its original artistic vision from the late 1920s. By way of comparing historical prices and wages, this paper establishes that the cantilever chair was never a cheap mass commodity but almost immediately acquired an upmarket status with corresponding prices. This is accounted for by programmatic demands of the creative environment from which the chair originated, through the chair's legal status as artwork, consumer tastes, strategic marketing choices and ultimately institutions.
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