On May 3rd the Barbican in London will be holding an exhibition titled Bauhaus: Art as Life which looks at the modern worlds most famous art school. It will feature a rich array of design, sculpture, painting, architecture, film, photography, textiles and ceramics, basically it will be a must visit and runs in line with what we cover here on the site. I’ll certainly be making a trip along to see what they have on offer, a couple of creatives work will be on my short list including Josef and Anni Albers, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the subject we’re going to talk about today Marcel Breuer.
Marcel Lajos Breuer was a Hungarian-born modernist, architect and furniture designer who’s known as being one of the “masters of Modernism”. He had a particular fascination with modular construction and simple forms, he even helped to develop unit construction, a combination of standardised units to form a technically simple but functional complete unit. A lot of this comes from his studies at the Bauhaus where he was a student and teacher for many years, this leads me onto his beautiful furniture which you can see above and below.
The Wassily Chair, seen below, was designed in 1925 and seems to be his more experimental phase in design, the actual piece was inspired by the shape and form of bicycle handlebars and was made for Wassily Kandinsky, an influential Russian painter and art theorist of the time. The frame was made from tubular steel which later became chrome plated and the seat came in a black canvas, fabric or leather. Obviously this specific shape has been copied many times but they’re not a scratch on the original, these chairs were purely functional and have the qualities of being hygienic, comfortable and most importantly cheap for the masses. This was groundbreaking and timeless design.
Looking through Breuer’s history it’s interesting to see his productivity throughout his life, even in the 40’s and 50’s he was still chipping away at the block, carving out his creative path. Amazing to see such passion in all different realms of design, he excelled in architecture in particular and even set up an architectural studio with Walter Gropius in Massachusetts in 1937.
Today I’ve selected in my opinion a nice summary of his furniture works for you to browse, maybe it will make you think about Marcel over the Easter weekend and his life and also inspire you to get creative yourself. It’s definitely influenced me this week and I’ve taken quite a lot away from learning about his background, I found his furniture to be interestingly symmetric and a pleasure to view on the eye.
Take the above image for example which is very modular from every side, the grid lines run along the arm rest and down on each side, then one fluid triangular shape through the middle. Really mind blowing if you ask me and optimises and sums up a lot about Marcel Breuer’s works and his exploration for structure within design. Enjoy.
“Structure is not just a means to a solution. It is also a principle and a passion.” – Marcel Breuer