In 1936 the Bauhaus architect and designer, Marcel Breuer and the Motley Theatre Design Group collaborated on two projects in London.
This exhibition explores the relationship between the émigré Hungarian architect and the three female theatre designers and the fruits of their collaboration: The Motley Fashion Shop in Garrick Street, and the London Theatre Studio in Islington.
Curated by Sophie Jump and Jane Won
In 1936 a new kind of theatre school opened in Islington. The London Theatre Studio was the first British drama school to incorporate theatre design and also included the training of directors, stage-managers and lighting designers. The building was adapted for the school by the young Hungarian architect from the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer. The designers in charge of the theatre design course were three women who practiced under the name of Motley.
The meeting between these important theatre designers and the architect led to a collaboration which went beyond the London Theatre Studio project. When the Motleys ventured into the field of contemporary fashion and decided to open a shop called Motley Couture, they asked Breuer to design the interior of their shop for them.
Both Breuer and Motley continue to have a huge influence on their respective arts. We are still fascinated and delighted by Breuer’s architecture, and his furniture designs are still available for sale seventy years on. Motley influenced theatre design so fundamentally through both their work and their teaching that it is inconceivable to imagine Britain having such a worldwide reputation for design without them.
Celebrating the seventieth anniversary of their collaboration, this exhibition will seek to illuminate the point in time when the paths of designers of such different backgrounds crossed, and to explore how it came to be that they had so much in common. What was it about both them and their age that created such a lasting legacy?
Bringing together documents and images, some from family archives and unseen by the public before, the exhibition will give new insight into the Modernist zeitgeist of mid 1930’s design.