Deutscher Werkbund


A broad association of German industrial designers, architects and industrial firms created October 1907 to develop (usually) mass-produced products (from spoons, match boxes, linoleum, to furniture and houses) of the highest standards (and to compete with British industry). Hermann Muthesius (1861-1927), Superintendent of the Prussian Board of Trade for Schools of Arts and Crafts, who had spent 6 years in England (and had seen the products and influence of William Morris and English Arts and Crafts), was the major instigator. The DW was formed by 12 artist/architects including Peter Behrens, Bruno Paul, Richard Riemerschmid, Josef Hoffmann and Josef Olbrich, and 12 firms including the publisher Eugen Diederichs, the typefounder Gebr. Klingspor, and the printer Poeschel & Trepte. Only 5 years after its formation, there were over 1000 members.

The Werkbund’s first exhibition, ‘Kunst und Industrie’ (Art and Industry) was held at Frankfurt am Main, 1909; the following year the Werkbund’s creations appeared at the Brussels World Fair. Other major exhibitions were held in Cologne (1914), Stuttgart (1927) and the Paris Exposition Universelle (1930). The first report by the Werkbund was Die Durchgeistigung der deutschen Arbeit. Ein Bericht…, Jena: Diederichs, 1911.

The Werkbund issued several titles (intending to be yearbooks?) including Die Durchgeistigung der deutschen Arbeit (Wege und Ziele in zusammenhang von Industrie/Handwerk und Kunst), Jena: Diederichs, 1912; Die Kunst in Industrie und Handel, Jena: Diederichs, 1913, and Handwerkliche Kunst, Berlin: Reckendorf, 1920. These contain the aims of the organization, and lists of members.

Comprehensive references are the 622-page exh. cat ., Zwischen Kunst und Industrie, 1975/6, and Joan Campbell, 1978 (see below).

Writings about

  • Die Form, 1932
  • Hans Eckstein (ed.), 50 Jahre Deutscher Werkbund, Frankfurt a.M.: Metzner, 1958
  • G.B. von Hartmann, Wend Fischer, Zwischen Kunst und Industrie. Der Deutsche Werkbund (exh. cat.), Munich: Die Neue Sammlung, 1975, Berlin: Internationales Design Zentrum, 1976, Hamburg: Haus Deutscher Ring, 1976 (the text also includes chronology, pp. 22-3, biographies, pp. 594-606, bibliography, pp. 607-13, and brief articles by many of the members of the Werkbund)
  • Joan Campbell, The German Werkbund. The Politics of Reform in the Applied Arts, Princeton University Press, 1978 (text includes bibliography, list of exhibitions)
  • Deutscher Werkbund und der Werkbund-Archiv, Die Zwanziger Jahre des Deutschen Werkbunds, Giessen, 1982
  • J. Joedicke, Weissenhof Siedlung Stuttgart, Stuttgart: Krämer, 1989 (Eng. tr.: P. Green)
  • Mel Byars, The Design Encyclopedia, London: L. King, 2004, and New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004.