Marcel Breuer Hungarian Furniture Designer

Posted on 20th July 2011 in Hungarian Designer

Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer

Marcel Lajos Breuer, known to his associates and friends as Lajkó, was born in Hungary on May 21, 1902. In keeping with modernist at the time, he studied at the famous Bauhaus and later taught there as well.  Influenced by the school’s theories of design and the incorporation of organic elements, he became the head of the school’s carpentry workshop using his skill later on to experiment with creative designs for modern furniture using wood as its material.

As he designed contemporary furniture, he was also a practicing architect designing in the beginning of his career residential projects and later on, public buildings. Working with materials that he applied to both his architectural work and his modern furniture design, he experimented with producing pieces that seemed to defy the properties of the materials. In designing the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, windows were designed to appear ‘soft” completely in opposition to the material used which was concrete.

This same manipulation of materials and design is also evident in his designing the first tubular bent steel chair in 1925 known as the Wassily Chair, also referred to as the Model B3 chair. This chair was available both as a folding and non-folding version. It s earliest version sported fabric straps that were held taut through the use of springs. Later on, this would be reproduced by Gavina who would replace the fabric with black leather straps which is what is better known today in contemporary furniture circles.

Prolific in the design of modern furniture, he produced in collaboration with Gunta Stölzl an African chair, a Sun Lounge chair, slatted wood chairs from 1922-24 and the Laccio tables that was designed to work together with the Wassily chair also utilizing bent tubular steel.

The Cesca Chair and Armchair designed in 1928 features a cantilever design with no back support for legs. Mies van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto also experimented with this design as well.

Later, in the 1930’s with the closure of the Bauhaus by the Nazi’s, he moved to Britain and was introduced to Jack Pritchard, the owner of Isokon producers of plywood modern furniture. It was here that he experimented with the properties of this material and designed the Long Chair with bent and formed plywood. This was an adaptation of one of his previous designs produced in 1932 as an aluminium framed chaise. Similar to other architects of his time, he designed both buildings and interiors including contemporary furniture that he would design specifically for the space.

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