Marcel Breuer (1902-81)

Hungarian architect and designer, born Pécs, active Germany, France and the United States.


Breuer moved to Vienna in 1920, having won a scholarship to attend the Academy of Fine Arts. Dissatisfied with the course of study, he soon dropped out and, on the advice of a friend, entered the newly-established Bauhaus at Weimar. There, thanks to his De Stijl inspired Wood Slat Chair (1921), Breuer became one of the institution´s best known students, and, after a period in Paris, became director of the furniture workshop in 1925.

It was around this time that Breuer, inspired by the purchase of his first bicycle, began to experiment with tubular steel. The result was the iconic Club chair (1925) ¬ó eventually dubbed the Wassily chair after Kandinski, who used one in his Bauhaus office. Throughout the late 1920´s, Breuer continued to design furniture in metal; much of it was incorporated into the masters´ houses and common areas of the new Bauhaus complex at Dessau.

Although he received little formal architectural training, Breuer began to design buildings in addition to furniture, and by 1928, had opened an office in Berlin. He moved to London in 1935, where he completed several architectural projects, and designed a line of plywood furniture for Isokon. In 1937, he accepted a professorship at the Harvard University School of Design which he held through 1946, when he abandoned teaching for the full-time practice of architecture. His firm won many important commissions, including private houses, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the UNESCO building in Paris.

Breuer´s most notable furniture designs include the Laccio table and chair (1926), the S285 desk (1930), and the whimsical F41 chaise longue, mounted on bicycle wheels (1930).

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