Deutscher Werkbund German artistic and production association

Poster for Deutsche Werkbund Exhibition in Breslau
for Deutsche Werkbund Exhibition in Breslau

The organisation, Deutscher Werkbund was founded in Munich (1907) to improve products’ design through the joint efforts of artists, craftsmen, and manufacturers: its leading lights were Behrens, Theodor Fischer, Hermann Muthesius and Fritz Schumacher. They also borrowed concepts from the Austrian Jugendstil movement, the Dutch De Stijl group and Russian constructivism. In the public mind, the movement quickly became linked to the Bauhaus. Bauhaus designers and artisans have loudly denounced the preceding century’s architecture and design and rejected historical styles as representative of undemocratic, authoritarian societies.

Deutscher Werkbund organised a major exhibition in Cologne (1914) with Gropius, Taut and van de Velde. Still, a debate arose in which Muthesius argued for industrial design. At the same time, van de Velde spoke for the creative artist/craftsman. After the 1914โ€“18 war, the Werkbund moved away from the Arts-and-Crafts’ redolent position towards the Modern Movement, as the journal Die Form (Design) published in 1925โ€“34 shows. 

A housing exhibition was held in Stuttgart, the Weissenhofsiedlung (1927), under the direction of Mies van der Rohe, which included works by Le Corbusier, Oud and Stam: further exhibitions were held in Paris (1930) and Berlin (1931), but it was disbanded (1934).

Mies at the Weissenhof Estate

Revived after the 1939โ€“45 war, mainly to promote a modernist ideology, it published Werk und Zeit in 1952. The Werkbund has inspired other organisations in Austria (1912), Switzerland (1913), Sweden (1913) and England (Design and Industries Association of 1915).


Curl, J., & Wilson, S. (2015). Deutscher Werkbund. In A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 Feb. 2021

Diefendorf, J. M. (1993). In the Wake of War: The Reconstruction of German Cities After World War II. United States: Oxford University Press, USA.

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