Sigfried Giedion (1888 – 1968) – Swiss art historian and designer

Sigfried Giedion (1888-1968) was a Swiss art historian and designer. He was born in Prague. 

Sigfried Gideon in black and white
Sigfried Gideon in black and white

Education

He studied engineering, at the Technische Hochschule, Vienna.

Between 1916-22, he was a student of art history, Zurich, Berlin, and Munich, under Heinrich Wolfflin. 

Biography

In 1923, he met Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus, Dessau, and, in 1925, Le Corbusier in Paris. Between 1928-56, he was general secretary, CIAM (Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), of which he was a founder.

He published books Bauen in Frankreich, Eisen, Eisenbeton (Building in France, Iron and Reinforced Concrete) (1928) and Befreites Wohnen (1929).  

In 1931 (with Werner M. Moser and Rudolf Graber), founded the Wohnbedarf department store, Zurich, specializing in home furnishings.

In 1932, he designed bronzeware in the BAG factory, Turgi (Switzerland), a firm that he helped to reorganize. He developed its indi lamp series with Hin Bredendieck. He created the tubular-steel furniture factory of Embru, Ruti (Switzerland). Between 1934-35, he was head of the technical division, Wohnbedarf department store. 

Vintage Indi Floor Lamp by Siegfried Giedion for BAG Turgi

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His international contacts with designers, including Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, L√°zsl√≥ Moholy-Nagy, and Herbert Bayer, proved decisive in Wohnbedarf ‘s growth. 

Academia

In 1938, Giedion delivered a paper in the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Harvard University. From the early 1940s, he published books in English, beginning with Space, Time and Architecture (1941). Under the tutelage of Heinrich Wolfflin, developed a theory of ‘anonymous’ history in his writings, best revealed in his speculative book¬†Mechanization Takes Command (1948). Other books followed, including¬†Walter Gropius, Work and Teamwork (1954),¬†Architecture You and Me (1956),¬†The Eternal Present: The Beginnings of Art (1962), and¬†The Beginnings of Architecture (1964). His last book¬†Architecture and the phenomena of Transition¬†was sent to his publisher on the day of his death.¬†

Published works

Walter Gropius, Work and Teamwork – S. Giedion

“The book opens with chapters on Gropius’ background, heritage and personality, followed by appreciations contributed by two of his greatest contemporaries, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.

Architecture, You, and Me

Here, the famous author of Space, Time and Architecture and other books examines basic principles of architecture‚ÄĒas handmaiden to essential shelter and comfort, and as creative partner in the aspirations of the human arts.

The Eternal Present: The beginnings of art

Professor Giedion, well known as an historian of architecture, is concerned in this latest work with a problem that in his view has come more and more into the foreground: the dual concepts of constancy and change in many spheres, ranging from the creative to the philosophical

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Walter Gropius is the history of modern architecture

Walter Gropius was an architect born in Germany in the early twentieth century who contributed to the founding of the Bauhaus School. He lived in the United States after 1937 and taught at Harvard University, where he continued to defend the principles of Bauhaus, especially the use of functional materials and clean geometric designs.

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