Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer


  • Birth: May 21 1902, in Pécs, Hungary
  • Died: July 1, 1981, in New York City
  • Nationality: Hungarian 

Marcel Breuer was a Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer of the Modernist movement, whose modular construction and simple forms earned him much acclaim throughout his career. He studied at the Bauhaus school of design from 1920 to 1924, where he later from 1925-1928 worked as a teacher and the head of the school’s carpentry program.

He was the first furniture designer ever to use tubular steel. Breuer understood early on how to use the material and how to achieve optimal seating comfort in combination with textiles.

His early designs made extensive use of steel, especially tubular steel frames. Breuer’s earliest model of a tubular steel chair dates back to 1925, and he claimed to have been inspired by the handlebars of his bicycle.


Later in his career, Breuer returned to his roots as a carpenter, producing a range of experimental furniture made of bent and curved plywood. 

Marcel Breuer was one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century. Here Christopher Wilk, Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, explores the history of the Short Chair – one of his best-known designs.

After the rise of the Nazi regime, Breuer fled Germany and settled in the United States, where he taught at the Harvard School of Architecture and designed several houses with his colleague Walter Gropius. One such project was the Alan I W Frank House in Pittsburgh, which they designed as a “total work of art,” creating the furniture and interior design as well as the building itself.

In 1953, Breuer was hired to design the UNESCO headquarters in Europe, which marked the beginning of a new direction in his career. Working primarily with concrete, and creating much larger projects, like the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, Breuer became one of the pioneers of Brutalism, a highly geometric movement that followed Modernism.  

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