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Marcel Breuer’s Isokon Furniture #Marcel Breuer


After the closure of the Bauhaus School in Berlin, part of its staff exiled in England and was hired by the British firm Isokon (Isometric Unit Construction). Walter Gropius was appointed Controller of Design, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy draw its logo y Marcel Breuer designed several pieces for its furniture catalogue.

Although Breuer was already known for his bent steel tube furniture, Jack Pritchard, Isokon’s director, thought that British customers would prefer plywood furniture following Alvar Aalto reinvention of the Nordic tradition. In fact, Isokon furniture was partially manufactured in Estonia until it was annexed by the URSS in 1939. Breuer’s most notable piece for Isokon was his chaise longue, designed in 1935 after a former aluminium version from 1932.

With its softer, more plastic material, with its more open structure, with its slower, longer curves, even the graphic character of the furniture is transformed: it is no longer the line drawn by the sharp point of a pencil, but the thick, heavy stroke of a brush soaked with colour. Giulio Carlo Argan, Progetto e destino, 1965

Isokon followed the Bauhaus idea of an integral approach to design, producing modern dwellings with its entire equipment. Its benchmark was the Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, designed by Canadian architect Wells Coates with collective services that included the so-called Isobar by Marcel Breuer and Maxwell Fry.

Jack and Molly Pritchard’s apartment in the building included some of the best furniture by its firm. In addition to his lounge, Breuer designed sofas, chair and different-sized tables made of a single bent plywood sheet. Another Isokon basic is the Penguin Donkey bookcase by Egon Riss, who followed Gropius and Breuer as Isokon’s controller of design.