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Chair - Spine Chair

Spine Chair

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)
    France (made)

  • Date:

    1986 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dubreuil, André, born 1951 (designer)
    André Dubreuil Decorative Arts (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel, waxed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Furniture, Room 135, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery, case BY10, shelf WALL

The French designer André Dubreuil started his career in the antiques business before becoming a painter. In 1979 he closed his shop, focussing solely on painting until 1985 when he began devoting his time to the production of furniture, which arose from the frustration he felt at the 'emptiness' of modern furniture. In his designs, Dubreuil uses historical influences in the lines and forms of his furniture to create a more ornamental piece, avoiding what he has described as the 'minimal and boring character' of modern furniture.

The chair was made by his own workshop, André Dubreuil Decorative Arts, in London. Dubreuil designs and makes mainly unique pieces of furniture to order, however this chair is one of a small group of pieces produced in series. Although also manufactured with a painted black surface, the chair was also intended by the designer to have an unpainted, waxed finish, as seen here.

Physical description

Chair of round and flat steel rods, welded. The continuous curved seat and back is made of horizontal metal struts and curls under at front and top joined at the sides to a supporting steel frame. The chair is raised on three feet, a single one at the back.
Each side of the main frame is made of a steel rod, round in section, which appears to start and finish at the front legs. The rod is shaped to form a cabriole leg and then continues in a generous curve to the back foot, which is set well back. From there another length of rod returns in the same way on the other side to form the other front leg. The front legs are connected by a round rod that forms an in-curved stretcher; another stretcher curving downwards, connects both sides of the frame under the seat. At the same point on each side another rod is welded which scrolls forward, round and back forming the frame of the seat and continuing an S-curve to meet at the top of the back, which scrolls under in almost a complete circle. A single rod connects the end of the back curl with the back foot forming a sort of spine of the chair. The two side frames of the back/seat are joined by flat metal struts set at rectangular intervals and continuing under the front curl of the seat. The struts are bent down slightly to shape the seat and bent further inwards from the front edge of the seat to allow space for the legs. The front feet rest on small round steel plates which are welded on.

Place of Origin

London (made)
France (made)


1986 (made)


Dubreuil, André, born 1951 (designer)
André Dubreuil Decorative Arts (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Steel, waxed


Height: 86 cm, Width: 70.5 cm, Depth: 93 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: The 'Spine' chair is particularly distinguished by its flowing line and clever use of material. This, as other work by Dubreuil shows his love for French furniture of the 18th and 18th century. However, the chair is also a distinct example of a 1980s design, attempting to absorb the principles of historical design.

Historical context note

During the mid 1980s Dubreuil produced metal furniture with baroque stylistic references. Unique and small edition pieces were made in Dubreuil's own workshop for a design-conscious and fashionable clientele. Unlike earlier designers of metal furniture, Dubreuil did not pursue anonymous functional forms and his designs tend to please the eye more than the body. Post-modernism allowed a pluralistic approach to historical references and metal furniture was often reminiscent of ealier upholstered types. The surface of the metal shows the marks of its manufacture in a way not found in chromium-plated modernist pieces.
Until late 1987, André Dubreuil worked on his own with minimal tools. Since 1988 he had a workshop which provided space for machines as well as people. He mostly worked in metal - which was according to Dubreuil was easier than wood. Without any training, he was taught by Tom Dixon how to weld.

Descriptive line

'Spine' chair, designed by André Dubreuil, made by Dubreuil Decorative Arts, London, 1986

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Claire Downey, Neo Furniture, London, 1992, p. 56;
Pierre Kjellberg, Le Mobilier du XXeme Siècle, Paris, 1994, p. 181;
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, 1000 Chairs, Cologne, 1997, p. 602;
Yvonne Brunhammer and Marie-Laure Perrin, Le Mobilier Francais 1960-1998, Paris, 1998, p. 43;
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, Modern Classics, Postwar to Postmodernism, London, 2001, p. 159, fig. 128

Labels and date

Designed by André Dubreuil (French, born 1951)
Made by André Dubreuil Decorative Arts, London
Steel, waxed

Dubreuil designs and makes mainly unique pieces of furniture to order, however this chair is one of a small group of pieces produced in series. Although also manufactured with a painted black surface, the unpainted, waxed finish seen here is as the designer originally intended. Having lived and worked in London during the 1980s, Dubreuil has since returned to France.

W.7-1989 [1989-2006]
Designed by André Dubreuil (French, b. 1951)
Made by André Dubreuil Decorative Arts, London
Sheet steel, waxed

This chair was solicited by the Museum and acquired for its sheer beauty and the ingenious way in which the design looks back to the history of furniture without directly imitating past examples. In this respect it offers a stark contrast to the Venturi chair (left) and Adam table (far left) on this plinth. It came as no surprise to learn that Dubreuil owned an antique shop before turning to interior and furniture design. Dubreuil designs and makes mainly unique pieces of furniture to order in a small workshop in London, where he has lived for over twenty years. This chair, however, is one of a small group of pieces produced in series which is in much demand.
Given by the designer
W.8-1989 [1990]
‘Spine’ chair
André Dubreuil (born 1951)

Made 1986 by André Dubreuil Decorative Arts, London
Steel rod and flattened iron tube, welded and waxed

Museum no. W.7-1989

The frame of this chair is made from five steel rods. They were shaped by hand in a vice or jig, then joined by welds. Lengths of flattened iron tube, purchased flat but shaped in the workshop, are visibly welded to the frame. The marks of manufacture are intentionally displayed rather than hidden.

Production Note

A.D. mentiones in interview with C. Wilk (16/02/1989); 'It's made in France and London.'

Attribution note: mass-produced on limited scale


Steel; Wax


Welded; Bending


Furniture; Metalwork

Production Type

Mass produced


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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