Furniture History: Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer was born in 1902 in Hungary and, like Le Corbusier, was a forward thinking architect, heavily influenced by the rapid technological changes of the early 20th century.

Marcel Breuer

Departing from traditional wooden furniture, Breuer was a designer fascinated by mass production and technology and believed that the metals used in industry could be applied for home decor as well.

This quote from Marcel Breuer illustrates his thinking:

Mass production 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.

Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer

He was connected to the Bauhaus school and named one of his famous designs after a former Bauhaus colleague: Wassily Kandinsky. Hence the Wassily Chair, seen in the photo below.

He designed a range of tubular metal furniture which he considered essential for modern living. The benefits of this new design were its resilience, simplicity and affordability.

The cantilever chair was his greatest commercial success. This is a minimalist chair that approaches his idea of “sitting in columns of air”, the height of functionalism and de-materialism. No ornamentation, but a strong, modern design statement.

Marcel Breuer's cantilever chair

The cantilever chair continued to evolve to become lighter and with softer lines, and his tubular metal furniture became a staple of 20th century design breakthroughs.

Source of information: Design Within Reach