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Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer

Hungary (1902-1981)
Headshot of designer.

Sparked by bicycle handlebars, Marcel Breuer’s tubular steel chairs were a daring departure from traditional wood furniture. “Mass production,” Breuer said, “made me interested in polished metal, in shiny and impeccable lines in space, as new components of our interiors. I considered such polished and curved lines not only symbolic of our modern technology but actually to be technology.”

Drawing upon this image of “shiny and impeccable lines in space,” Breuer designed his famous Wassily Chair in 1925, which was later named after Wassily Kandinsky, a former Bauhaus colleague. Breuer’s range of tubular metal furniture had singular advantages: affordability, simplicity and an inherent resilience. He considered his designs essential for modern living.

Breuer’s next breakthrough was his cantilevered chair. While Mart Stam and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had created cantilevered chairs using steel tubes, they were rigid and awkward. Breuer used unreinforced steel tubing, creating a free-swinging chair that approached his de-materialist ideal of “sitting on columns of air.” The cantilevered chair was his greatest commercial success, and its design continued to evolve, the frame becoming lighter, the seat and back more pliant and the lines softer.

In 1928 Breuer left the Bauhaus and moved to Berlin. He relocated to England in 1935, when the Nazis made it impossible for anyone who had been a part of the Bauhaus – a “hotbed of Bolshevism” – to practice architecture. In 1937, he began to collaborate with Walter Gropius in the Boston area and joined Harvard as a professor. Breuer later moved to New York in 1946 to found his own architectural firm, with concrete becoming his medium of choice, exemplified by his 1964 design of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Artist photo from 1000 Chairs courtesy of Taschen

Marcel Breuer

Wassily® Chair
Cesca Side Chair - Leather
Cesca Armchair - Cane
Cesca Armchair - Leather
Laccio Table, Large
Laccio Table, Small
Vitra Miniatures Collection: Wassily Chair
Wassily® Chair in Belting Leather
Wassily® Chair in Canvas
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