Design Moment: Marcel Breuer dressing table, 1926

This spare design would have seemed wildly radical during a period of rich textures


If even the very idea of a dressing table conjures up images of pampered luxury, then this by Hungarian Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) turns that on its head. Breuer is most famous now for his tubular chrome chairs. He came to study at the Bauhaus in Weimar when he was 18 and went on to work on complete interiors for clients and friends. This dressing table for the house of Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy uses many of Breuer’s signature details: it is modular, made in several pieces; the simple stool has chrome-plated legs; and the tall, slim mirror to the side is frameless except for a slim piece of wood, top and bottom. The three drawers – painted in three colours – with their simple handles, act as the table while a light high above is fixed to the wall. Rooms were small, and this spare design takes up little space. The 1920s in Europe was a time when interiors were dominated by heavy curtains, Persian rugs and richly textured upholstery, so this stark design for a bedroom would have appeared wildly radical.