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Long chair

Marcel Breuer (American, b. Hungary, 1902–1981)

The Isokon Furniture Co. (English, c. 1934–1974)

1936 (designed) 1936 (manufactured)

Medium bent plywood, laminated wood and solid wood Measurements H: 30 3/4 x W: 24 1/4 x D: 51 in. (78.1 x 61.59 x 129.5 cm) Credit DuPuy Fund and Decorative Arts Purchase Fund Accession Number 90.19 Location Not on View

Narrative

Marcel Breuer graduated in 1924 from the Bauhaus, Germany's forward-looking and prestigious design school. Ten years later he followed Walter Gropius, his mentor and former Bauhaus director, to England. Breuer stayed in England barely two years before moving to the United States, but in that time he met Jack Pritchard, who had just founded the Isokon Furniture Company to promote and realize modern design. Pritchard was keen to exploit new uses for plywood, and from December 1935 to early 1936 Breuer designed the company's first plywood reclining chair, known as the Long Chair. Based on one of Breuer's earlier designs in aluminum, this chair creates the illusion of suspending the sitter in space. Isokon's 1937 catalogue highlighted the Long Chair, with its original fitted cushion, claiming the chair gave "scientific relaxation to every part of the body, immediately creating a feeling of well-being. It is even a better aid to digestion than any medicine under the sun. Admirable for those who take forty winks after dinner." Isokon may have been at the center of early Modernism in England, but the firm chose to promote this chair as "a further development of the English tradition of sound useful design, good workmanship, and appropriate materials" rather than as an exemplar of modern design and innovative materials and production. Breuer himself was concerned with comfort, resilience, and the use of new materials suitable for mass production. Long Chair is a brilliant synthesis of these intentions.