Marcel Breuer (1902–1981)
Manufactured by Isokon Furniture Co., London
Moulded birch plywood with zebrano veneer
79.2 x 62.2 x 98.5cm
Museum no. CIRC.80–1975
Given by Mr and Mrs Dennis Young
The Isokon ‘Short Chair’ – along with its companion piece, the full-length ‘Long Chair’ – was a translation into plywood of an aluminium chair designed by Marcel Breuer in 1932. When Breuer emigrated to Britain, Walter Gropius had just been appointed Controller of Design to Jack Pritchard’s fledgling Isokon Furniture Company, and it was Gropius’s suggestion that Breuer design a version of the aluminium chair in plywood.
The sensuous curves of the plywood seat, with its built-in headrest, are played off against the four strips of bentwood that support it and also supply the armrests. This is one of the most comfortable chairs of the 1930s, and one that has provoked many a Hampstead intellectual to fall asleep over his or her Penguin book. English traditional notions of comfort and Modernist principles of clear expression of materials and structure were perfectly combined in this design.