Early Life and Career
Henry Van de Velde (1863 – 1957) was a Belgian architect, industrial designer, painter, and art critic. He was professionally active in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. He worked with Samuel Bing, the founder of the first gallery of Art Nouveau in Paris. Van de Velde spent the most critical part of his career in Germany and became a significant figure in the German Jugendstil. He had a decisive influence on German architecture and design at the beginning of the 20th century.
Between 1881 – 1884 he studied painting at Académie des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp and between 1884 – 1885 in Paris under Carolus Duran.
Artistic Philosophy and Influences
The Secessionists and French Art Nouveau influenced him. Art, in his opinion, should respond to the organic form. He gave up painting in 1892 to pursue a career in design. His home in Brussels Bloemenwerf, where he combined furniture, rugs, and wall coverings to create a unified whole, earned him international attention. Even though his efficient and stunningly simple designs were admired throughout Europe, he reached the pinnacle of his career in Germany, where he opened a store in Berlin.
“Art is the flower, life is the green leaf. One must seek the real beauty, the real poetry, in the indispensable, in the material, in life itself.”
Henry Van de Velde
Contributions to German Design and Architecture
Van de Velde created furniture, porcelain, silver, jewellery, and textiles in Germany. As a founder member of the Deutscher Werkbund, he eventually quit his position. He cited the deterioration of quality due to a greater reliance on the machine over the artist as the reason for his departure.
In 1906, he founded the Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule (Grand Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts).
Focus on Architecture
The theories of Ruskin and Morris strongly influenced Van de Velde and began to concentrate on architecture and the design of everyday objects. In 1894, he designed his first house, the Villa Bloemenwerf in Uccle, near Brussels. His powerful and organically curved designs, strongly abstracted from the floral style of his compatriot Victor Horta, created a completely new style. He designed the entire interior furnishings for his Bloemenwerf House.
The Bloemenwerf Chair, originally designed for the dining room of the house, is a ground-breaking chair design to be created in the nineteenth century. The design of this chair comes from when van de Velde showed the public his “new style” for the first time at Bloemenwerf, the house he designed and built for himself in the Brussels suburb of Uccles in 1895. He also designed the interiors and furniture, which were partly based on the Red House by William Morris. Van de Velde gave everything in the house, from the doorknobs to the wallpaper, the same patterns of embellishments and flowing lines. He did this to show the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, which means “total work of art.”
Interior Design & Architectural Projects
- 1895–96: “Bloemenwerf”, Van de Velde’s first private residence, in Uccle, Belgium
- 1895: Interior decoration of Siegfried Bing’s art Gallery “Maison de l’art nouveau” in Paris, France
- 1898 : Monument Frédéric de Merode, Brussels, Belgium
- 1900–02: Interior of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, Germany
- 1902–03, 1911 (extension): “Villa Esche” in Chemnitz, Germany
- 1903: Extension and interior decoration of the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, Germany
- 1906–07: Clubhouse of the “Chemnitzer Lawn-Tennis-Club” in Chemnitz (demolished)
- 1907–08: “Hohenhof”, Mansion for Karl Ernst Osthaus in Hagen, Germany
- 1907–08: “Haus Hohe Pappeln”, Van de Velde’s private residence in Weimar, Germany
- 1909–11: “Ernst-Abbe-Denkmal”, Memorial for Ernst Abbe in Jena (in collaboration with the sculptors Max Klinger and Constantin Meunier)
- 1912–13: Palace for Graf Dürckheim in Weimar, Germany
- 1913–14: “Werkbund-Theater”, Theatre at the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition in Cologne, Germany
- 1913–14: “Villa Schulenburg” in Gera, Germany
- 1913–14: Wohnhaus für den Fabrikanten Dr. Theo Koerner in Chemnitz, Germany
- 1927–28: “La Nouvelle Maison”, Van de Velde’s private residence in Tervuren, Belgium
- 1929 : “Wolfers House” in Ixelles (Brussels), Belgium
- 1929–31: Home for the elderly of the ‘Minna und James Heinemann-Stiftung’ in Hannover, Germany
- 1933–35: Polyclinic and “Villa Landing” for Dr. Adriaan Martens in “Astene” near Ghent, Belgium
- 1933–38: Library of Ghent University with “Boekentoren” in Ghent, Belgium
- 1936–42: “Technische School”, School building in Leuven, Belgium
- 1937: Belgian Pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exposition
- 1937: “Station Blankenberge”, Train station in Blankenberge
- 1939: Belgian Building for the 1939 New York World’s Fair
Berg, T., & Bröhan Torsten. (2001). Design classics 1880-1930. Taschen.
Miller, J. (2009). 20th-century design: The definitive illustrated sourcebook. Miller’s.
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, July 26). Henry van de Velde. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:31, August 2, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Henry_van_de_Velde&oldid=1035542923
More on Art Nouveau
You may also be interested in
Design Classic – Influential and important design Henry Van de Velde designed the Bloemenwerf Side Chair (1895-1898). Bloemenwerf, Henry Van de Velde’s property outside Brussels, is the inspiration for this chair. Van de Velde planned and built the house and the interior-from the furniture to the wallpaper-resulting in a holistic design that exemplified the concept of a Gesamtkunstwerk “total work of art”.
Organiser – Great Exhibition of 1851 Henry Cole was a significant force in 19th-century British design education, emphasising its importance to industry. He was also instrumental in the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the founding of the Journal of Design.