Marcel Breuer was the first furniture designer ever to use tubular steel. He understood early on how he had to use the material. In combination with textiles, he attained optimal seating comfort. Practical tables made of glass and steel tubing give the living room a tidy and modern appearance.

Portrait of Marcel Breuer, photo: Irene Bayer, around 1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © unknown.
Portrait of Marcel Breuer, photo: Irene Bayer, around 1928. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © unknown.

Marcel Breuer received a scholarship to attend the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1920. He switched to the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar the same year and attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary course. From 1920/21 to 1924, he studied at the carpentry workshop taught by Walter Gropius. In 1924, he passed his journeyman’s examination at the Chamber of Crafts Weimar and initially became an associate journeyman in the carpentry workshop with flexible working hours and a fixed salary. His job was to facilitate between the masters of form and the masters of works.

African Chair, design: Marcel Breuer / textile: Gunta Stölzl, 1921. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
African Chair, design: Marcel Breuer / textile: Gunta Stölzl, 1921. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

After his appointment by Walter Gropius as a junior master in 1925, he directed the furniture workshop, also known as the carpentry workshop, until 1928. In 1925, he created the B3 chair, the first design for a tubular steel chair for domestic use. In 1926–1927, Breuer founded the company Standard Möbel GmbH with Kálmán Lengyel in Berlin. That same year, he married fellow Bauhaus member Martha Erps.

Lady’s Dressing Table from the Haus am Horn, author: Marcel Breuer, 1923 / partial reconstruction: Gerd Oschmann, 2004. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.
Lady’s Dressing Table from the Haus am Horn, author: Marcel Breuer, 1923 / partial reconstruction: Gerd Oschmann, 2004. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau.

Breuer left the Bauhaus in 1928. He opened an architecture office in Berlin, employing the former Bauhaus student Gustav Hassenpflug. Breuer continued to work as an interior designer and furniture designer (Piscator apartment) in Berlin. However, his many architecture projects were not realised. In 1933, Breuer moved his office to Budapest. Two years later, he relocated to England and founded an architecture office together with the architect F. R. S. Yorke. In 1937, he moved to the United States and received a professorship for architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design with the help of Walter Gropius. Together with Gropius, he directed an office in Cambridge, Massachusettes, until 1941. The same year, Breuer established his own architecture office, which he moved to New York in 1946. In 1956, he founded the practice Marcel Breuer and Associates, Architects in New York. This realised a number of major projects in the United States and Europe (Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, UNESCO Building in Paris).

Clubsessel B 3, 2nd version, design: Marcel Breuer, 1926. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © unknown.
Clubsessel B 3, 2nd version, design: Marcel Breuer, 1926. Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / © unknown.

Literature:
Cobbers, Arnt (2007): Marcel Breuer 1902–1981. Formgeber des 20. Jahrhunderts, Cologne.
Droste, Magdalena & Manfred Ludewig (1992): Marcel Breuer Design, Cologne.
Vegesack, Alexander von & Mathias Remmele (2003): Marcel Breuer. Design und Architektur, Weil am Rhein.