German workshops Hellerau

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Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau GmbH
legal form Company with limited liability
founding 1898
Seat Dresden - Hellerau , Germany
  • Fritz Straub
  • Jan Jacobsen
Number of employees 240
sales 40 million (2016)
Branch Interior work

German workshops, 1911

The German workshops Hellerau GmbH is a medium-sized company in Dresden ( Hellerau ), which operates in the interior. In the course of the reform movement in the arts and crafts around the turn of the century, the company was one of the most important manufacturers of furniture based on designs by well-known artists.

Company history


Buffet, designed by Richard Riemerschmid in 1903

The company was founded in 1898 by Karl Schmidt-Hellerau with a loan of 5,000 Reichsmarks and two employees under the name of Dresdner Werkstätten für Handwerkskunst Schmidt and Engelbrecht in Dresden-Laubegast . In 1899 the company moved to the workshop of the Müller Akkordzitherfabrik at Bärensteiner Strasse 5 in Dresden-Striesen . The company appeared under the name Schmidt & Müller, Dresden-Striesen . After the death of his co-owner Julius Müller, Karl Schmidt paid out the shares to his son Theophil Müller in 1902 and relocated the sales and workshop to Blasewitzer Straße  17 in Dresden-Johannstadt . In 1907, the cabinet maker merged with the workshops for home furnishings in Munich to form the Deutsche Werkstätten für Handwerkskunst GmbH, Dresden and Munich . Karl Schmidt in Dresden and Karl Bertsch in Munich were employed managing directors from then on. In the same year, Karl Schmidt set up a commercial college and training workshops, the first director of which was Joseph August Lux . In 1909 the foundation stone was laid for a factory building in what is now Dresden - Hellerau and thus also for the garden city of Hellerau. The new production hall was put into operation and the move took place in 1910. At that time, the Deutsche Werkstätten employed 450 people.

The buildings were designed by Richard Riemerschmid in 1907 and take on the basic shape of an estate. The buildings are designed on a floor plan based on a screw clamp and are grouped around a courtyard. The buildings show the typical elements of the Riemerschmid style, such as half-hipped roofs, some use of half-timbering and a reference to baroque construction forms.

In order to raise the necessary capital for the company growth, the company was converted into a stock corporation in 1913. The company name was Deutsche Werkstätten – AG. Rähnitz-Hellerau near Dresden . During the First World War , the demand for the company's products remained high. Mainly stocks were sold, since the drafting of workers, difficulties with the procurement of materials due to the war and the production for the army administration did not allow a regular furniture production. The lost war, revolutionary turmoil and hyperinflation in 1923 worsened the company's economic situation. The share capital had to be increased by four million marks. There was short-time work. There were also strikes for higher wages. In those years the Hellerau wooden houses were developed. These were prefabricated houses in various designs. This production line was a success. From 1925, the Deutsche Werkstätten also became involved in the interior fitting of passenger steamers.

Excursus machine furniture
Machine furniture: linen cupboard from the first program Das Dresdner Hausgerät , 1906

From 1903 Richard Riemerschmid developed the machine furniture . This was machine-made series furniture that could be dismantled. This enabled them to be packed together to save space in order to transport them to the customer. It was easy to assemble. The furniture consisted of standardized elements and could be combined with one another. Riemerschmid attached great importance to combining the most efficient production possible on the one hand and a design of the furniture that met the aesthetic demands of the Deutsche Werkstätten on the other. The effect of the furniture should only come from the clear shape, the proportions and the conscious use of the materials. In the first few years it was also avoided to highlight the origin of the machine. The customer should get a piece of furniture that at first glance looked like traditional craftsmanship. It was not until the mid-twenties that the machine was more emphasized in manufacturing. There were different price ranges for this furniture. Furthermore, the possibility of purchasing individual pieces of furniture and not just complete room furnishings made this furniture affordable for lower income groups. In 1906 the world's first machine furniture program was presented at the Third German Applied Arts Exhibition. The program was called Das Dresdner Hausgerät . From 1912 onwards, other designers also contributed designs for machine furniture. The program was then called Das Deutsche Hausgeräte . It ran until 1925 and was replaced by the program The Cheap Apartment .

As early as 1898/1899, Karl Schmidt and Johann Vincenz Cissarz had made a cabinet with large plywood panels. With the further development, the plywood panel , the type furniture program The Cheap Apartment , designed by Adolf Gustav Schneck , was produced from 1925 . In 1929 the Munich branch was liquidated. Nevertheless, the financial situation continued to deteriorate. In the middle of 1930, the managing directors Schmidt and Bertsch were fired and the company was shut down in order to avoid bankruptcy proceedings. Schmidt waived all claims from his management contract in order to be able to stay with the company. There was a change of shareholders and from 1931 production slowly started again. The number of employees increased from 130 in 1932 to 428 at the end of 1933. In the years that followed, up to the start of the war , the company developed very positively. Among other things, complete furnishings were produced under the name Die Heimstättenwohnung according to the guidelines of the Reichsheimstättenamt . Bruno Paul designed the furniture program The growing apartment .

After the beginning of the war in 1939, the drafted employees were replaced by French and Soviet prisoners of war and forced laborers. The workshops produced military equipment, mainly GUNSTOCKS and from 1944 aircraft parts for the Heinkel He 162 S . During this time, a method was developed to glue scraps of wood in such a way that furniture fittings, coat hooks or even doorknobs could be made. In 1941, the Deutsche Werkstätten received the patent for tempered wood .


Chair press, 1951
Living room from the program The growing apartment , 1954

Since Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau AG was a supplier to the armaments industry during World War II, the plant was used for reparations and came under state administration. The corporation was dissolved in 1946. Karl Schmidt-Hellerau was forbidden to enter the company premises. The company was nationalized on January 1, 1951. From then on it traded under the state-owned company Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau . The furniture program Growing Apartment was continued. Following on from the development work on tempered wood ten years ago, the employees developed the non-cutting deformation of laminated wood . They also invented a method of making pressed furniture panels from sawdust and wood chips. These were used in the production of MDW furniture. From 1967 the workshops produced the furniture program Deutsche Werkstätten (MDW) in large numbers. The furniture system developed by Rudolf Horn remained in production for 24 years. From 1970 Hellerau was the main plant of the VEB Möbelkombinat Hellerau , to which several furniture companies in the GDR belonged, for example the Eschebach factory in Radeberg.

During the GDR era, 80 carpenters worked in the custom-made department, expanding the Dresden Semperoper , the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the government building in East Berlin.

Since the original gate had become too narrow, Heinrich Rettig replaced it in the post-war period with the still-preserved archway in the Riemerschmidt style.

1991 - today

Since 2006, the production building of Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau GmbH has been opposite the old workshop complex

After the fall of the Wall in 1991, the company was converted into a GmbH and reprivatised in 1992 by the Treuhandanstalt as part of a management buy-in . 80 employees dared a fresh start and concentrated on high-quality individual interior design. Initially, the workshops were mainly active in the context of public contracts.

Today around 230 people work for the Deutsche Werkstätten. In addition to the subsidiary in Russia with its branch in Moscow, the company also has representatives in England and France and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Basic idea of ​​the production

Karl Schmidt dedicated himself specifically to the production of reform furniture , which he had designed by well-known artists. Designs came from a. by Karl Groß , Max Rose , Wilhelm Kreis , Erich Kleinhempel , Gertrud Kleinhempel , August Endell , Otto Fischer , Otto Gussmann , Peter Behrens , Joseph Maria Olbrich , Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh .

With his workshop, Karl Schmidt tried to find a compromise between inexpensive machine production and tasteful design. In addition to sophisticated custom-made products, the range included mainly functional, durable and affordable utility furniture for the middle class . In the course of the reform movement in the arts and crafts in Germany, the Deutsche Werkstätten were the most important furniture manufacturer in Dresden. The Deutsche Werkstätten were among the founding members of the German Werkbund .

social commitment

Garden city of Hellerau

During his traveling years in England, Karl Schmidt-Hellerau got to know the idea of ​​the garden city . He wanted to implement this in Dresden as well , as a social progress and solution to the unhealthy crampedness of urban workers' apartments. Together with other people, including Friedrich Naumann, he decided to build the first German garden city . It was supposed to border on the new factory building of the Deutsche Werkstätten, for which the Gartenstadt-Gesellschaft Hellerau and the building cooperative Hellerau were founded. In 1909 he bought a total of 140 hectares of land from 42 Klotzscher and 31 Rähnitz farmers for around 1.50 marks per square meter. On June 9, 1909, Schmidt-Hellerau began building the Am Grünen Zipfel residential street at the same time as the construction of the Deutsche Werkstätten, based on plans by the Munich architect Richard Riemerschmid .

Dresden toys

Sunday rider, designed by Richard Riemerschmid, 1904, executed by the Dresden workshops for handicrafts, Zschopau toys department, c. 1905

The German factories were from 1902 together with the workshops for German household Theophil Müller among the first companies that wooden toys under the name "Dresdner toys" to designs manufactured by artists. The offer included a. a rocking horse based on a design by Richard Riemerschmid and a dachshund on wheels based on a design by Hermann Urban . Other designs came from Hellmut Eichrodt , Gustav Schaale , Bernhard Wenig , Fedor Alexis Flinzer and the writer Frank Wedekind .

The creation of reform toys in Dresden was against the background of the art education movement at the beginning of the 20th century and a deep dissatisfaction with the quality of the then massively industrially produced toys. The aim was to create toys that were simply designed, made of natural materials and stimulating the imagination.

On February 18, 1905, Karl Schmidt founded an independent toy department with the Dresden workshops for handicrafts, toys department in Zschopau in his hometown, a region with little structure at the time. The toy program was presented regularly and extremely successfully at the Leipzig trade fair . The offer met with a great response from the beginning in the leading art magazines and daily newspapers. Against the background of the upcoming implementation of the garden city of Hellerau and in the sense of a company concentration, the toy department was sold to the wooden toy factory of Theodor Heymann in Großolbersdorf in May 1909 . Heymann continued production in the spirit of the founder until 1914.

Production (selection)

Between 1909 and 1945

Between 1949 and 1990

The Hellerau wooden chair model 50642 by Erich Menzel
  • Industrial large-scale production for interior decoration for hotels, universities, theaters
  • Individual equipment with high-quality interior fittings for the Meyer villa in Radebeul, a "rare example of a GDR entrepreneur villa "
  • The furniture for home furnishing, also known as Hellerau furniture , was very popular.
  • An assortment that had been produced for ten years and was still in demand among collectors and museums after the fall of the Wall was the type set series 602 with sideboards and showcases, designed by Bauhaus designer Franz Ehrlich .
  • A special product was the model 50642 plywood chair , steam-pressed in 29 layers of wood. The design comes from Erich Menzel from the early 1950s. In 2014, its collector's value was given as 1200 euros , in 2020 the market value will be realized at 1800 euros.

Since 2000

The company is mainly active in the field of interior finishing of rooms and buildings, such as B. for:

The interior construction of yachts accounts for 40 percent of sales today.


Archive and exhibition

The archive of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, consisting of contracts, artist correspondence, original drawings - by Richard Riemerschmidt, Heinrich Tessenow , Bruno Paul and Karl Bertsch , among others - supervisory board and general meeting minutes, balance sheets, business reports, patents, catalogs and brochures, photos and images (glass plates , Negatives and slides), was placed under the protection of cultural assets as a nationally valuable archive .

In the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden , the Schaudepot Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau shows the development in the serial furniture construction of the Deutsche Werkstätten from the beginnings in 1898 to the 1960s.


  • Klaus-Peter Arnold : From sofa cushions to urban planning. The history of the Deutsche Werkstätten and the garden city of Hellerau. Verlag der Kunst, Dresden, Basel 1993, ISBN 3-364-00252-5 .
  • Reinhard Delau, Lothar Sprenger: Schmidt's heirs. The Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. Verlag der Kunst, Amsterdam Dresden 1998, ISBN 90-5705-105-2 .
  • Dresden History Association (Ed.): Garden City Hellerau - The everyday life of a utopia. (= Dresdner Hefte 51 ), Dresden 1997, ISBN 3-910055-42-7 .
  • Werner Durth (Hrsg.): Design to Modernism: Hellerau. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-421-03217-3 .
  • Clemens Galonska, Frank Elstner: Garden City Hellerau - One hundred years first German garden city. Palisander Verlag, Chemnitz 2007, ISBN 978-3-938305-04-1 .
  • Ruth war: German workshops: operational history of the VEB German workshops Hellerau. 1989.
  • Ralph Lindner, Hans-Peter-Lühr (Ed.): Garden City Hellerau - The history of their buildings. Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2008, ISBN 978-3-940319-30-2 .
  • Thomas Nitschke: The history of the garden city Hellerau. Hellerau-Verlag, Dresden 2009. ISBN 978-3-938122-17-4 .
  • Tilo Richter, Hans Christian Schink: Industrial architecture in Dresden. Kiepenheuer, Leipzig 1997. ISBN 3-378-01019-3 .
  • Bernd Sikora : Industrial architecture in Saxony. Preserved by new use. Edition Leipzig, Leipzig 2010, ISBN 978-3-361-00654-6 .
  • Hans Wichmann: German workshops and WK Association 1898-1990 . Prestel, Munich 1992. ISBN 3-7913-1208-1 .
  • Alfred Digit: Furniture making in Dresden - Unique and series in: Astrid Nielsen (Ed.): Art Nouveau in Dresden. Departure into the modern age. Edition Minerva, Dresden 1999, pp. 80-89.

Web links

Commons : Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Alfred number: Furniture construction in Dresden - Unique and series in: Astrid Nielsen (Ed.): Art Nouveau in Dresden. Departure into the modern age. Edition Minerva, Dresden 1999, p. 84
  2. see Arnold, p. 85
  3. see Arnold, footnote 258 on p. 394; food carts and propellers were made
  4. see Arnold, p. 180
  5. see: Wolfgang Weinhold: The Salamander - A plane from the joinery . Holz-Zentralblatt, issue 35 from March 21, 1984.
  6. ^ Deutsche Werkstätten ,
  7. a b Hellerauer-Werkstätten-Luxus for boat and construction
  8. see company website
  9. Igel Tours Dresden: Dresden: new tour through history . Sutton Verlag GmbH, 2011, ISBN 978-3-86680-782-2 ( 2nd tour in the Google book search).
  10. Property price ( memento of the original from January 31, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. a b Urs Latus: Dresden reform toys . In: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden , Kunstgewerbemuseum (Hrsg.): Art Nouveau in Dresden. Departure into the modern age . Edition Minerva, 1999, p. 118-125 .
  12. Volker Helas (arrangement): City of Radebeul . Ed .: State Office for Monument Preservation Saxony, Large District Town Radebeul (=  Monument Topography Federal Republic of Germany . Monuments in Saxony ). SAX-Verlag, Beucha 2007, ISBN 978-3-86729-004-3 , p. 68 f .
  13. a b Stefan Strauss: The Treasures of the East. Museums and collectors from all over the world now pay a lot of money for art and design from the GDR. In: Berliner Zeitung from 15./16. November 2014
  14. Erich Menzel Veneer Chair 50642, from 1949 Hellerau plywood chair, GDR No. 2. In: Ebay . Retrieved May 13, 2020 .
  15. Report on the workshops 2007 on
  16. ^ Nationally valuable archives in Saxony

Coordinates: 51 ° 6 ′ 27.8 "  N , 13 ° 45 ′ 33.8"  E