Wilhelm Wagenfeld

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Table lamps, left by Carl Jakob Jucker, 1923/24 and Wilhelm Wagenfeld, 1924
Fat-lean Saucière MT 50, 1924
Teapot, 1930
WV 343 lamp for Lindner Leuchten, 1955
"ABC" portable typewriter for Koch's-Adler, 1954
"Max & Moritz" salt and pepper shaker for WMF
Tea service
Champagne bowl, glass service "Lobenstein"
Postage stamp: Design in Germany , 1998
The Wilhelm Wagenfeld House in Bremen

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (born April 15, 1900 in Bremen , † May 28, 1990 in Stuttgart ) was a German product designer . The Bauhaus student is one of the best-known pioneers of industrial design . Some of his designs are produced as design classics up to the present day, for example the Bauhaus lamp , now also known as the Wagenfeld lamp , designed together with Carl Jacob Jucker .

life and work


Wilhelm Wagenfeld came as the son of Heinrich Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Elisabeth Wagenfeld, b. Wichmann, at Vollmersstrasse 52 in Bremen-Walle . His sisters Anna and Auguste followed in 1902 and 1904. He grew up in a political, social democratic home; his father was a shop steward for the transport workers in the port.

From 1914, Wagenfeld completed an apprenticeship as an industrial draftsman in the Bremen silverware factory Koch & Bergfeld and from 1916 to 1919 he attended the Bremen State School of Applied Arts , then the Hanau Drawing Academy , before going to the Worpswede artists' colony for a few months . From 1923 he took part in a preliminary class at the Bauhaus in Weimar and at the same time studied in the metal workshop at the Bauhaus . In 1922 Wagenfeld had planned a longer stay in Vienna in order to deal intensively with the Wiener Werkstätte , a project that could not be carried out for reasons of immigration law. In some of his designs, including the Saucière from 1924, the influence of this direction in applied art can be seen.

In 1924 in the metal workshop at the Bauhaus, under his teacher László Moholy-Nagy, the design for the lights MT 8 , metal version, and MT 9 , glass version was created. The timeless table lamp with the hemispherical glass bell has become known as the Bauhaus or Wagenfeld lamp . It is still one of the most famous Wagenfeld designs to this day.

In 1925 Wagenfeld married Else Heinrich. After the relocation of the Bauhaus to Dessau in the same year, Wagenfeld stayed in Weimar and, after completing his apprenticeship examination to become a silversmith and chiseler, joined the metal workshop of the newly founded Staatliche Bauhochschule Weimar as an assistant in 1926 , and in 1928 he took over the management of the metal workshop. As early as 1925, Wagenfeld had a technical innovation for the glass version of the lamp patented and was therefore able to further develop and manufacture it, although the Bauhaus in Dessau continued to produce its lamps. The light was evenly distributed by using a lampshade made of opal glass. Since 1926 he was a member of the German Werkbund .

After the Staatliche Bauhochschule Dessau was closed in 1930, Wagenfeld was allowed to decide for himself how to use the designs he created there. He became a freelancer at the Jena glassworks Schott & Gen. During this time, such well-known designs as the tea service made of fireproof glass were created, which became classics and are still in production today. He also designed handles, door fittings and household items for various companies. Since then, Wagenfeld has occasionally participated in advertising his products through brochures, catalogs or articles under a pseudonym in women's magazines.

From 1931 to 1935 he was a professor at the State Art School in Berlin. Then he took over the artistic direction of the United Lausitzer Glaswerke (VLG) in Weißwasser / Oberlausitz . Through the collaboration with Charles Crodel , the work for the United Lusatian Glass Works found access to museums and exhibitions. To this end, Crodel developed partially patented decoration processes for series production. Like other designers from the Bauhaus and the Deutscher Werkbund, Wagenfeld attached great importance to standardizing his designs for mass production.

At the beginning of 1942 Wagenfeld married Erika Helene Paulus for the second time, with whom he was also artistically connected until the end of his life.

During the Second World War he was drafted into military service in 1943 and, due to his refusal to join the NSDAP , had to initially serve on the so-called Western Front, and later in a punitive battalion on the Eastern Front. He had not carried out the design assignment for a production facility taken over by the SS . In the meantime, he continued to work for his mostly industrial clients, such as the Fürstenberg porcelain factory and the Rosenthal company, since the 1930s . After his return from Soviet captivity in mid-1945, he held a professorship at the Berlin School of Fine Arts from 1947 to 1949 . Moved to Stuttgart , he belonged to the avant-garde artists' meeting in the restaurant “Bubenbad” around Willi Baumeister , which also included his designer colleague Hans Warnecke .

In 1954 he founded the Wagenfeld workshop in Stuttgart , which he operated until 1978. His clients were well-known manufacturers of consumer goods such as WMF , Johannes Buchsteiner, Braun or Rosenthal .

In 1990 Wilhelm Wagenfeld died in Stuttgart. His grave is in Collex-Bossy (Switzerland). His grandson Malte Wagenfeld is Professor of Industrial Design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

Work and reception

Wagenfeld's design is characterized by its timeless design and contemporary functionality and was style-defining at the time. Some of his more than 600 designs, mainly in glass and metal, are still produced today as so-called design classics. Numerous works can be found in the collections of well-known museums and private individuals, for example in the Museum of Applied Arts in Leipzig. In many cases, Wagenfeld's original design templates have been and are changed by manufacturing facilities, so that no license obligations arise, but the original remains recognizable. A distinction must be made between licensed replicas true to the original. With Wagenfeld's approval, Tecnolumen, founded in Bremen in 1980, is the only company in the world to manufacture licensed replicas of the Wagenfeld light. In the UK, cheaper copies are produced.

Wagenfeld took the form follows function concept, also practiced in the Bauhaus environment , seriously. He often developed several design drafts and had them checked by practitioners so that he could work out the best form for the planned function. In addition, its design was sometimes multifunctional, for example you can prepare tea directly with your teapot (1931) and use the glass egg boiler (1933) to serve food. With his artistic prototypes for industry, which were created in close cooperation on both sides, he wanted to reach all layers of society, including the poorer ones. Every shape and material should be worked on with equal thoroughness. Wagenfeld also designed his private environment according to the motto “of the right life with the right things”.

The estate is being kept and exhibited by the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation in the Wilhelm Wagenfeld House in Bremen, which was established in 1993 , after the designer offered it to his hometown in 1988. The house is the seat, exhibition and event platform of the Design Center Bremen, the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation and the Society for Product Design.

In 1968 Wagenfeld designed seven altar lights for the Johanneskirche in Altenbochum , which was built according to plans by the architect Hans Scharoun . The vocational school for design Wilhelm Wagenfeld School in Bremen orients itself in the design education of the pupils on the works and central ideas of Wilhelm Wagenfeld. To commemorate his work at the United Lausitzer Glaswerke , the former Wilhelm-Pieck- Strasse in Weißwasser / Oberlausitz was renamed Professor-Wagenfeld-Ring after the fall of the Wall . In addition, he was made an honorary citizen of the city posthumously in 2016.

Awards (selection)

Well-known designs (selection)

  • 1924: Bauhaus or Wagenfeld lamp MT 8 and MT 9
  • 1930: Multipurpose lamp for Weimar Bau- und Wohnungskunst GmbH
  • 1931: Revision of the Sintrax coffee maker from Jenaer Glas for the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott + Gen.
  • 1931: Tea service made of Jena glass for Jena glass works Schott + Gen. (since 2006 under license from Zwiesel Kristallglas )
  • 1933: Egg boiling glass Egg boiler made from Jena glass for the Jena glassworks Schott + Gen. (since 2006 under license from Zwiesel Kristallglas )
  • 1934: Service Form 639 for the Porcelain Manufactory Fürstenberg / Weser
  • 1937: Glass service Lobenstein for the United Lausitzer Glaswerke AG in Weisswasser
  • 1938: Kubus crockery, stackable glass containers for the United Lausitzer Glaswerke AG in Weißwasser
  • 1950: POTT 783/83 cutlery for POTT (based on preliminary work by Hermann Gretsch )
  • 1954: Lufthansa crockery made of melamine , manufactured by Johannes Buchsteiner, Gingen / Fils
  • 1956/57: Baby bathtub for Johannes Buchsteiner, Gingen / Fils
  • Ashtray for WMF
  • Max and Moritz salt and pepper shakers , butter dish, egg cups and serving plates made of Cromargan for WMF
  • Ceiling, wall, corner and mirror lights for the companies Lindner (Bamberg), Brunnquell (Ingolstadt), Putzler (Düren) u. a.

Exhibitions (selection)

in lifetime
  • 1964: Participation in documenta III in Kassel with work in the Industrial Design department
  • 1973: Wilhelm Wagenfeld. 50 years working in factories , Cologne Museum of Decorative Arts
  • 2000: 100 years of Wilhelm Wagenfeld , Wilhelm-Wagenfeld-Haus, Bremen
  • 2014: Wilhelm Wagenfeld: The shape is only part of the whole. Wilhelm Wagenfeld House, Bremen
  • 2014: At table with Wilhelm Wagenfeld - a treasure trove of shapes from the Weimar Bauhaus to the WMF. Collection Rüdiger Kroll, Geldern in the Museum Katharinenhof , Kranenburg
  • 2015: in hand every day - Wilhelm Wagenfeld and modern porcelain design. Museum of the Porcelain Manufactory Fürstenberg , Wagenfeld's porcelain designs
  • 2015: Boffzen Glass Museum , including works by Wagenfeld for the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen and the United Lausitzer Glaswerke in Weißwasser, especially from the collection of Helmut Günther
  • 2016: Professor Wilhelm Wagenfeld, his work and work in Weißwasser - Exhibition on the occasion of the award of honorary citizenship of the city of Weißwasser , Weißwasser Glass Museum


Own writings
  • Wilhelm Wagenfeld: The nature and shape of things around us. Essays from the years 1938 to 1948. Worpsweder Verlag, 1990, ISBN 3-922516-67-X .
Secondary literature
  • Dieter Büchner: From Weimar to Geislingen. Wilhelm Wagenfeld, the Bauhaus and WMF . In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg 2/2019, pp. 92–98.
  • Carlo Burschel, Beate Manske (ed.): Contemporary and timely. Industrial forms by Wilhelm Wagenfeld . Hauschild, Bremen 1997, ISBN 3-931785-59-9 .
  • Alfons Hannes: The Wolfgang Kermer Collection, Frauenau Glass Museum: Glass of the 20th Century; 50s to 70s (= Bavarian Museums. Volume 9). Schnell & Steiner, Munich / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-7954-0753-2 , pp. 41–43. (with contributions by Wolfgang Kermer and Erwin Eisch )
  • France Kermer : Wilhelm Wagenfeld: témoin vivant du Bauhaus. In: Revue de la Céramique et du Verre. no. 45, mars / avril 1989, pp. 20-21.
  • Rüdiger Kroll: At table with Wilhelm Wagenfeld. A treasure trove of shapes from the Weimar Bauhaus to the WMF . Association for Heimatschutz eV, Kranenburg. Völcker-Druck, Goch 2014, ISBN 978-3-9812548-8-4 . (with curriculum vitae in tabular form)
  • Beate Manske (Ed.): Up-to-date and time-stable. 2. Industrial forms by Wilhelm Wagenfeld . Hauschild, Bremen 2012, ISBN 978-3-89757-482-3 .
  • Walter Scheiffele: Wilhelm Wagenfeld and the modern glass industry. A history of German glass design from Bruno Mauder, Richard Süssmuth, Heinrich Fuchs and Wilhelm Wagenfeld to Heinrich Löffelhardt . Hatje, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-7757-0488-4 .
  • In hand every day, industrial forms from Wilhelm Wagenfeld from six decades. Worpsweder Verlag, Bremen 2005, ISBN 3-88808-550-0 . (with catalog raisonné)

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Wagenfeld  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Cecilie Eckler-von-Gleich: Wilhelm Wagenfeld - a Waller Butjer. In: really Walle. Bremen district magazine. No. 6, Bremen, summer 2016, p. 28.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation.
  3. One of his teachers there was Reinhold Ewald . Press kit for the expressive double exhibition . Experimental. Headstrong. Reinhold Ewald 1890–1974, 2015/2016 as a PDF file .
  4. a b Wagenfeld at the Staatliche Bauhochschule Weimar , curriculum vitae.
  5. ^ Rüdiger Kroll: At table with Wilhelm Wagenfeld. A treasure trove of shapes from the Weimar Bauhaus to the WMF . Goch 2014, p. 34.
  6. The part Jucker had in the drafts is controversial. Wagenfeld revised the lamp for the new production in 1980. Karsten Hinz: Merchandising Appendix. In: Jeannine Fiedler, Peter Feierabend (Ed.): Bauhaus. Krönemann, Cologne 1999, p. 630.
  7. Olaf Arndt: The law of the series. In: Jeannine Fiedler, Peter Feierabend (Ed.): Bauhaus. Krönemann, Cologne 1999, p. 430.
  8. ^ Wilhelm Wagenfeld. In: Charlotte and Peter Fiell: Design of the 20th Century . Taschen, Cologne 2000, p. 719.
  9. Rüdiger Kroll (2014), pp. 58f, 73.
  10. Photo ( Memento from July 29, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ^ Standardization. In: Charlotte and Peter Fiell: Design of the 20th Century . Taschen, Cologne 2000, p. 661.
  12. Rüdiger Kroll (2014), p. 38.
  13. ^ Wilhelm Wagenfeld. In: Charlotte and Peter Fiell: Design of the 20th Century . Taschen, Cologne 2000, p. 720.
  14. Galerie Valentien, Bubenbad artists' meeting place . 2007, kulturpur.de, accessed on April 5, 2016.
  15. ^ History of the Buchsteiner company . industriekultur-filstal.de, accessed on April 5, 2016.
  16. Kerry Negara: The Maker Malte Wagenfeld , abc.net.au, accessed on April 5, 2016.
  17. Rüdiger Kroll (2014), p. 19 (Wagenfeld apartment - a scale). For the license obligation, see also the example in Kroll (2014), p. 41.
  18. ^ Walter Schnepel, entrepreneur and art collector ( Memento from May 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). Series 2 to 1, Nordwestradio , April 18, 2016.
  19. Rüdiger Kroll (2014), p. 60.
  20. The work. Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation, accessed on April 6, 2016.
  21. Quoted from: Rüdiger Kroll (2014), p. 13 (Wagenfeld apartment - A scale).
  22. Dietrich Scholle, Birgit Gropp (arrangement): The buildings of Hans Scharoun in Westphalia (= Westfälische Kunststätten. Vol. 120). Westfälischer Heimatbund , Münster 2016, ISSN  0930-3952 , p. 40f.
  23. a b Glasmacherstadt names second honorary citizen. (No longer available online.) MDR Saxony, April 15, 2016, archived from the original on April 24, 2016 ; accessed on April 15, 2016 .
  24. Rüdiger Kroll (2014), p. 17, (Wagenfeld apartment - a scale)
  25. Corinna Laubach: Now I've got it, it's like an egg! In: The world. June 2, 2000.
  26. ^ Website of the Boffzen Glass Museum