Architect Marcel Breuer
Designer and Architect, Marcel Breuer (1902 - 1981) can be regarded as one of the most influential and important designers of the 20th century. As a young student at the Bauhaus Weimar, Breuer, who was Hungarian by birth, caught the eye with various furniture designs inspired by the Dutch De Stijl group. In 1925, at the tender age of only 23, he “invented” tubular steel furniture, a revolutionary development, to be considered his core contribution to the history of design. Breuer’s tubular steel designs, such as the famous Wassily armchair, the Bauhaus stool, or his various cantilever chairs are representative for the design of an entire epoch, and thus comparable only with Wagenfeld’s legendary table luminaire. In the shape of millions of copies they have long since taken a firm place among the great classics of Modernism.
Yet it was not only tubular steel furniture that helped Breuer make an international splash. He was likewise a design history trail-blazer with his aluminum and bent laminated wood furniture designs produced in the 1930s, inspiring subsequent generations of designers. From today’s viewpoint, his legendary interior designs seem no less important. One need not think only of his creations for Walter Gropius “Master House” in Dessau (1925/26) or the apartment of famous theater director Erwin Piscator in Berlin (1927), or the interiors designed at a later date in England and America that so strongly influenced 20th century living rooms.
Breuer, was a few years progressed from a Bauhaus student to become a furniture and interior designer held in high esteem by the entire European avant-garde, but he himself wished first and foremost to be an architect. In the mid-1920's he construed building as the real goal of his work. Following a sluggish start in Europe as of 1937 and in the United States, primarily owing to the Great Depression and World War II, his career as an architect took off in the mid-1940's. His New York-based studio at first made a name for itself with detached houses.
In the early 1950's, Breuer recognized numerous prestigious large-scale projects, among others who were creating various buildings that were at the forefront of international debates, such as the Unesco Headquarters in Paris (1952 - 1958 together with Nervi and Zehrfuss) and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1964 - 66). Breuer trademark came to be the sculptural use of concrete, which he preferred predominantly, because it could be molded and possessed in massiveness.
The Marcel Breuer retrospective conceived and organized by Vitra Design Museum was the very first exhibition that appropriately presented all the different fields in which he was active – and treated them in a comprehensive synopsis in his oeuvre.