Thursday, March 1, 2018

Deutscher Werkbund: The path to German Modern Standardization:


The Deutscher Werkbund was founded in 1907 in Munich as a response to widely held worries that Germany's rapid modernization was coming at the cost of its national culture. It brought together professors, craftsmen, industrialists, fine artists, politicians and designers. 

The group’s main intellectual leaders were Hermann Muthesius and Henry van de Velde

werkbund exhibition, 1914, bruno taut, gas pavillion, 

Werkbund was greatly influenced by William Morris' Arts and Crafts movement which proposed that industrial crafts be revived as a combined effort between both designers and craftsmen. But The Werkbund was primarily interested in the link between the artistic and the economic aspects of mass production. The Werkbund was against revivalism and believed that architecture should be a representation of the spirit of the age (zeitgeist).

Here we have a middle point: The Werkbund set out to produce architecture that utilized mass production but still made use of craftsmanship.

The Werkbund saw the potential of mass production and wanted German designers to take advantage of it. It was believed that mechanized production was incompatible with ornamentation (see Adolf Loos' influence here) and that products should be simplified down to their basic forms. To attempt to introduce their ideas the Werkbund implemented a program of certification for products.

factory building, office building, walter gropius, 1914 

But the two camps had their issues, which is why Werkbund splits into two different factions: The first, led by Muthesius, championed the greatest possible use of standardization and mechanical mass production. Van de Velde headed the other faction and maintained the notions of individual artistic expression.

Muthesius' ideas won.