For the exhibition Die Wohnung (The Dwelling), organized by the German Werkbund in Stuttgart-Weissenhof, Swiss architect Max Ernst Haefeli (1901–1976) developed modern, lightweight “type furniture.” The elements, cast from an aluminum alloy, can be screwed together to form chairs or stools.
The development of modern Swiss “type furniture” began in the pivotal year of 1926. And as early as 1927 the Kunstgewerbemuseum Zürich was already presenting the first industrial designs by the architect Max Ernst Haefeli in the exhibition Form ohne Ornament (Form without Ornament). That same year, the SWB commissioned designs from a dozen promising young architects with an international standing for the, later legendary, exhibition Die Wohnung (The Dwelling), organized by the German Werkbund in Stuttgart-Weissenhof. The big hit in the six collectively planned apartments was Haefeli’s metal type furniture. Its elaborate production process called for a combination of cast parts and plywood elements. Haefeli applied the cast-iron technique commonly used at the time for city and hospital furniture but used instead an aluminum alloy called “Elektron.” In addition to chair frames, the promising silver metal was also used for cast table legs, arms for wall lamps, and even supports for a grand piano. Although the German company Esch and Anke expressed interest, Haefeli’s Elektron line never went into series production—in contrast to the cantilever chairs that were likewise introduced for the first time in Stuttgart by Mart Stam and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In Switzerland, Marcel Breuer developed a successful line of lightweight metal furniture in 1933 made of slotted aluminum profiles with cast aluminum connecting elements. (Arthur Rüegg)