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Desk

Desk

  • Place of origin:

    Bristol (made)

  • Date:

    1935-1936 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Breuer, Marcel Lajos, born 1902 - died 1981 (designer)
    P. E. Gane Ltd. (makers)
    Isokon Furniture Company (manufacturers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sycamore veneered laminated board, chromium plated tubular metal, glass top, rubber fittings and linoleum

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support, and the assistance of the Friends of the V&A and the Michael Marks Charitable Trust

  • Museum number:

    W.64:1 to 9-2002

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The desk, designed by Hungarian born architect and designer Marcel Breuer has an interesting history from its patronage to its design and beyond. The desk was commissioned by Dorothea Ventris, a committed collector of contemporary art and design, for her home in Highpoint I, a block of flats in Hampstead, London. Highpoint was itself a modernist building designed by the Russian-born architect Bertold Lubetkin. The desk remianed in the flat until the 1950s when her son, Michael Ventris, designed a new home for himself, incorporating the suite of furniture commissioned by his mother. This new house was built at 19, North End, again in Hampstead. An extraordinary twist to the story of the desk, comes with its later role. It is thought that it was at this desk that Michael Ventris was working when he first deciphered Minoan Linea B script, an ancient language that had puzzled archaeologists for many years. Although he was an architect by profession, Ventris was a keen amateur linguist and his work allowed many important inscriptions from the ancient world to be deciphered.

Physical description

Desk, sycamore veneered plywood and chromium plated tubular metal, the frame rectangular with one short side forming to a 'V' to provide a support, opposed by a five drawer cabinet, glass top, and with key.

Place of Origin

Bristol (made)

Date

1935-1936 (made)

Artist/maker

Breuer, Marcel Lajos, born 1902 - died 1981 (designer)
P. E. Gane Ltd. (makers)
Isokon Furniture Company (manufacturers)

Materials and Techniques

Sycamore veneered laminated board, chromium plated tubular metal, glass top, rubber fittings and linoleum

Dimensions

Height: 74 cm, Width: 122 cm, Depth: 61 cm

Descriptive line

Unique prototype desk, sycamore veneered plywood and chromium plated tubular metal, with glass top, designed by Marcel Breuer and made by PE Gane Ltd for Isokon, Britain, 1936

Labels and date

WRITING DESK
Designed by Marcel Breuer (Hungarian, 1902-1981)
Manufactured by P.E. Gane Ltd, Bristol
Sycamore veneered laminated board, chrome-plated tubular steel, glass, linoleum
1936

Breuer designed numerous desks, the structure of which were entirely tubular steel. In this design however, he consciously juxtaposed three different materials, emphasising their distinct structural and visual qualities. This is the desk at which Michael Ventris, architect and archaeologist, deciphered an ancient form of Greek script known as Linear B in 1953.

Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Michael Marks Charitable Trust
W.64-2002 [2002-2006]

Production Note

Attribution note: Unique prototype desk
Reason For Production: Commission

Materials

Sycamore; Laminate; Chrome; Glass; Rubber; Linoleum

Techniques

Cabinet-making

Categories

Furniture; Woodwork

Production Type

Prototype

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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