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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 exam...
Reclining chair, 'Long Chair', wood, designed by Marcel Breuer, England, 1935, made by Isokon Furniture Company, England, 1935-1936
Reclining chair, 'Long Chair', plywood, designed by Marcel Breuer, made by Isokon Furniture Company, England, 1935-1936
Reclining chair of laminated (birch) ply, the angled back-rest and shaped seat of one continuous piece of moulded plywood supported by a bent plywood frame consisting of three separate elements; shaped armrests and uprights in one continuous piece connected to a horizontal base framework that curves back to join the cantilevered leg-rest of the chair. The third supporting element is a simple stretcher connecting the uprights of the arm elements beneath the seat.
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.