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Rethinking the Evolution of Modern Design with Smart Museum Curator Richard Born

HAVE A SEAT: We study four chairs and the designers’ influences on one another

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Breuer chair, created by Marcel Breuer

BREUER CHAIR (circa 1929) This iconic lounge chair represents the same ideals as the Thebes stool and Robie Houses chair: lack of applied ornament and use of oak. But the Hungarian-born creator, Marcel Breuer—a student and later a teacher at the Bauhaus—rejected the concept that all elements had to be handcrafted. Instead, he employed machine-age chrome legs and production-line assembly techniques.


Eames dining chair

EAMES DINING CHAIR (1946) A classic example of midcentury modern design. The curved plywood features recall the Thebes stool, but the chair was made on an assembly line, similar to Breuer’s lounge chair. Says Born: “Unlike Wright’s early furniture designs, which were unique commissions, or Bauhaus designs, which were luxury items manufactured on a limited scale, this dining chair was fully affordable, mass produced, and marketed widely in America and Europe at the time.”

GO: SMART MUSEUM OF ART at the University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.; 773-702-0200, smartmuseum.uchicago.edu


Photography: Tom Van Eynde

Credits: (All chairs) courtesy of Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago (Eames chair) 1946, Charles and Ray Eames, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest R. Frueh, (Breuer chair) circa 1929, Marcel Breuer, gift of E. L. Menger


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