Armchair, aluminium / wood / fabric, designed by Marcel Breuer, Switzerland, 1932-34, made by ICF Cadsana SpA, Italy, c. 1985
German-born architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) was one of the most important designers of the 20th century. A student then teacher at the Bauhaus, Breuer designed the first tubular steel chairs in the mid 1920s, an innovation that was to revolutionise 20th century chair design and production. In the 1930s he also experimented with aluminium and plywood; the museum has an example of the plywood chaise longue designed by Breuer for Isokon in England in 1935.
The innovatory aluminium furniture series was designed by Breuer in Switzerland 1932-34 and manufactured by Embru for marketing in the Wohnbedarf stores. However, early production was in limited quantities and ceased entirely with the diversion of metal supplies for military purposes in the late 30s. The aluminium armchair (available in both lounge and side chair versions) was put back into limited production under licence in the mid 1980s by the ICF Cadsana company, based in Milan, in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art, New York who hold an original example. Before the company went out of business the remainder of the chairs were bought by Harry Seidler (who studied under and worked for Breuer in the US in the late 1940s) and the Sydney retailer Anibou. From 1989 about 200 of the chairs were used in the Atrium restaurant in Seidler's Capita Centre, Castlereagh Street, Sydney (1984-89) and leather-covered lounge versions were used by Seidler in some of the building's public spaces. This chair, in reupholstered form, is one surviving from the restaurant, which recently closed.
A development of his earlier cantilever tubular steel chairs, Breuer's flat-banded aluminium chair introduced a number of structural and design features - the splitting of the horizontal ground members and twist to the armrest back - to give additional flexibility, strength, and stylishness. With its local associations, the chair is a rare example of an important design made in limited quantities and now no longer in production.
Designed by Marcel Breuer in Switzerland, 1932-1934. Breuer was born in Hungary in 1902 and attended the Weimar Bauhaus 1920-1924 as a student and the Dessau Bauhaus 1925-28 as a teacher. With the political unrest in Germany in the 1930s Breuer worked in Switzerland and then England before moving to America in 1937.
Made under licence by the Milan-based company ICF Cadsana, Italy, 1985, in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art, New York who hold an original example. The chairs were originally made by the Swiss company Embru and marketed by the Wohnbedarf department stores.
The chair designed 1932-34; this example was made about 1985.
Used as a dining chair (one of 200) in the 'Atrium' restaurant (owned by donors), Capita Centre, Castlereagh Street, Sydney (architect Harry Seidler1984-1989) from 1989 to about 2000.
Bought by Harry Seidler for use in the 'Atrium' restaurant in his Capita Centre building, Sydney; donated by the owners of the restaurant.