MARCEL LAJOS BREUER (1902 – 1981)
Marcel Lajos Breuer was born in Fünfkirchen in Austria-Hungary on May 21, 1902. When he was still quite young, Marcel Breuer tried his hand at studying at the “Academy of Fine Arts” in Vienna. But he abandoned his studies after less than a year and started an apprenticeship at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Already at the age of 21 he met Walter Gropius and worked for his studio on the project “Haus Sommerfeld” (the Summerfield house).
However, several years later, Marcel Breuer got into an argument with the Bauhaus: in 1926/27 Breuer founded the company „Standard Möbel“ but the rights to his designs, which he produced as a young master at the Bauhaus from 1925 on, were not clarified. Among those designs were classics like the „Stahlrohrsessel B5“ (steel tube armchair B5). The dispute became known under the name “Breuerkrise” (Breuer crisis), but thanks to his good contacts to Walter Gropius, the young designer was able to end the argument in 1927. This enabled the presentation of the famous “ Stahlclubsessel B3” (steel club armchair B3) which is still known as the „Wassily Chair“ in the same year.
His good contacts to Walter Gropius should help Marcel Breuer again in the following years: In 1928 Breuer first cancelled his post as a young master at the Bauhaus in Dessau and then, shortly afterwards, his partnership with „Standard Möbel“. He sold his rights and opened an architect’s office in Berlin. However, Breuer never was a qualified architect and therefore the „Bund Deutscher Architekten BDA“ (the Professional Association of German Architects) refused to admit him. Breuer got almost no jobs and therefore had to fight his way through by doing small renovations and furniture designs. It was only in 1931 that Marcel Breuer was admitted to the BDA, after Walter Gropius had spoken up for Breuer again.
In 1933, Marcel Breuer, who had Jewish origins, fled to the USA. Together with Walter Gropius he founded the department of architecture at the Harvard University and an architect’s office in 1937. In the following years he completed many successful projects with his own architect’s office. Amongst others there was the UNESCO building in Paris
Marcel Breuer died in New York City on July 1, 1981.