Reclining chair, 'Long Chair', wood, designed by Marcel Breuer, made by Isokon Furniture Company, England, 1935-1936
The 'Long chair', with its bent frame of laminated birch wood supporting the shaped timber seat and back, was developed soon after Marcel Breuer settled in England in 1935. The chair ranks as one of the highlights of inter-war modernism, its use of moulded plywood anticipating the direction of post-WWII furniture design and manufacture. With its variants, and along with the plywood chairs of the renowned Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, from the 1930s, the 'Long chair' is one of the earliest examples of 'organic' plywood furniture.
Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) was born in Hungary. He attended the Weimar Bauhaus between 1920 and 1924 and then was the 'Young Master' of its furniture worksop in Dessau from 1925 to 1928. From 1922, Breuer designed innovative wood-slat furniture and from 1925 also metal furniture beginning with his now iconic 'B3' (known as the 'Wassily chair' from the 1960s) , the first modern tubular-steel chair for the domestic interior. From 1929 Breuer also designed cantilevered chairs from bent metal tubing, beginning with 'B32', later known as 'Cesca'. (The firts cantelivered chair was designed by Mart Stam in 1926). The experimental nature of plywood as a new material for furniture making, saw the 'Long chair' undergo several modifications over time for strength and durability. Nonetheless, its gentle contouring and simple, lightweight, elegant form anticipate concerns further elaborated on by prominent post-war designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Eero Saarinen.
Marcel Breuer left Bauhaus in 1928 and then worked in Berlin, Switzerland and England. He migrated to America in 1937 where he, along with Gropius, attained a celebrated architectural career.
Designed by Marcel Breuer in England 1935-36. Born in Hungary in 1902 Breuer attended the Weimar Bauhaus 1920-24 where he was particularly influenced by Walter Gropius. After designing many examples of innovative wooden and metal furniture Breuer settled in England in 1935 where, encouraged by the Isokon Furniture Company, he experimented with developing a simple plywood chair moulded to the shape of the body. The 'long chair' and its variants were, with Alvar Aalto's plywood chairs of the 1930s, the earliest examples of 'organic' plywood funriture - to be further elaborated by such post-war designers as Charles and Ray Eames.
The 'Long Chair' was made by the Isokon Furniture Company in London, a firm established by Jack Pritchard in 1931 to meet the growing demand for modern furniture. Gropius, acting as a consultant to Isokon, suggested Breuer experiment with developing a simple plywood chair capable of mass production while encouraging Breuer to model the new chair on his earlier aluminium lounge chair design of 1933. Breuer's design for the 'Long Chair' was his first experiment with plywood. It demonstrates a new concern with forming a chair to comfortably fit the contours of the human body. The frames for the prototypes of the 'Long Chair' were made in a small workshop in London, while the seats were initially ordered pre-bent from the Venesta Plywood Company in Estonia, where Jack Pritchard had worked previously.