Deutscher Werkbund  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) was a German association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists. The Werkbund was to become an important event in the development of modern architecture and industrial design, particularly in the later creation of the Bauhaus school of design. Its initial purpose was to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets. The Werkbund was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to put Germany on a competitive footing with England and the United States. Its motto Vom Sofakissen zum St├Ądtebau (from sofa cushions to city-building) indicates its range of interest.


The Werkbund was founded in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius, existed through 1934, then re-established after World War II in 1950. Muthesius was the author of the exhaustive three-volume "The English House" of 1905, a survey of the practical lessons of the English Arts and Crafts movement. Muthesius was seen as something of a cultural ambassador, or industrial spy, between Germany and England.

The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms. The architects include Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann, Bruno Paul, and Richard Riemerschmid. Other architects affiliated with the project include Heinrich Tessenow and the Belgian Henry van de Velde. The Werkbund commissioned van de Velde to build a theatre for its 1914 Cologne Exhibition in Cologne, the theatre which turned out to be his best work, and which only stood for one year before being destroyed as a result of World War I. Eliel Saarinen was made corresponding member of the Deutscher Werkbund in 1914 and was invited to participate in the 1914 Cologne exhibition. Its most famous member was the architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, who served as Architectural Director.

Key dates of the Deutscher Werkbund

  • 1907, Establishment of the Werkbund in Munich
  • 1914 Cologne exhibition
  • 1920, Lilly Reich becomes the first female Director
  • 1924, Berlin exhibition
  • 1927, Stuttgart exhibition (including the Weissenhof Estate)
  • 1929, Breslau exhibition
  • 1938, Werkbund closed by the Nazis
  • 1949, Reestablishment


Most recently, the Verband Deutscher Industrie Designer (Association of German Industrial Designers, or VDID) and the Bund Deutscher Grafik-Designer Federation of German Graphic Designers (BDG-Mitte) held a joint meeting to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Deutsche Werkbund. A juried exhibition and opening was held on March 14, 2008.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Deutscher Werkbund" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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