WA 24 Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld Tecnolumen
October 12th, 2015 by smow

The WA 24 table lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld is without question one of the most instantly recognisable pieces of Bauhaus design, so much so that it is often referred to as simply “the Bauhaus Lamp”. Designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld in 1923 the WA 24 was quickly followed by a series of variations on the theme, yet all maintaining the same pared-down grace and uncomplicated functional elegance of the original. Characteristics which can just as easily be applied to Bauhaus itself as to Wagenfeld’s lamp.

Yet despite the unshakeable union that exists between the Wagenfeld lamp, Bauhaus and the ideals of Bauhaus design, the WA 24 was nearly little more than a historical footnote. That we have it today, and that we can enjoy it today for all its easy splendour, being thanks to a delightful twist of fate and one very direct sentence.

In 1976 the Bremen businessman and art collector Walter Schnepel was browsing through an archive in the north German town of Worpswede when he stumbled across some early, unknown, woodcuttings by a certain Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Aware of Wagenfeld as an industrial designer, impressed by the woodcuttings and keen to learn more Walter Schnepel contacted Wagenfeld and subsequently visited him in Stuttgart, primarily to find out more about Wagenfeld the artist. That initial visit became the first of many, during one of which the conversation turned to a lamp designed by Wagenfeld in his early years at Bauhaus and one depicted in all popular literature on Bauhaus, “Why doesn’t anyone produce this lamp?” asked Walter Schnepel.

“Dann machen Sie es doch!” replied Wagenfeld. Then you do it!

The rest, as they say……

To learn a little more about the development of the Wagenfeld lamp, the problems of the copies and the relevance of Bauhaus for contemporary design, we spoke with Walter Schnepel, and began by asking what for him is the attraction of the Wagenfeld Lamp……

Walter Schnepel: I think it is this reduction of a lamp to its basic elements that fascinates me most about the object, for me the only other lamp that achieves such is the floor lamp from Gyula Pap, who went even further and reduced the lamp down to just the light bulb, and it’s this symbol character that I think fascinates me most with the Wagenfeld Lamp.

smow blog: Wilhelm Wagenfeld is well known as someone who designed for industry, and as someone who designed lamps for industrial partners, did he give any indication as to why this particular lamp never entered production, did he try to find a producer?

Walter Schnepel: It was produced in a small series in the 1920s, but that stopped with the war. And later Wagenfeld didn’t consider his earlier works so important, he was much more focussed on his current projects and objects such as the lamp were for him simply something he had created in the early part of his career. And so maybe our discussions about the lamp reignited his interest in it.

smow blog: And then having been, effectively, challenged by Wilhelm Wagenfeld to manufacture the lamp, was the subsequent development as smooth a process as one could hope for?

Walter Schnepel: No, initially it was very trying! On the one hand it was the first time any of us had manufactured a lamp, then we had problems with unreliable suppliers and when all was, finally, ready, the German furniture stores didn’t want to stock the lamp and so we had to market and distribute them ourselves. Which hadn’t been part of our original plan. The initial production was 250 lamps and we deliberately set the price so that if we sold all 250 we would get back the 100,000 DM we had invested in the project. Initially the plan was just to produce those 250, however they sold out in three weeks, a fact which greatly pleased Wilhelm Wagenfeld, and naturally myself, and so because it had been such a positive success and because I understood better how the market worked, and for all knew what not to do, we decided to produce more. And we’re still producing them.

smow blog: And not just the Wagenfeld lamp but also other Bauhaus lamps, how did the further cooperations arise?

Walter Schnepel: We started with the version of the Wagenfeld lamp with the metal base, which is the oldest of the designs, next came the version with the glass base and then it was a logical progression to look at which other lamps were of interest. Gyula Pap was the first, and most obvious, I visited him in Budapest and then slowly started to attempt to make contact with those other former Bauhäusler in whom I was interested, something that was very difficult with Marianne Brandt. She was living in East Germany and consequently we could only really communicate indirectly, via intermediaries, however over such ways I secured the rights to her works and I promised to send examples of the finished lamps to selected museums in East Germany as soon as they were available, something which again was only possible indirectly, we couldn’t just send them.

smow blog: So, what, you were sending them in pieces via various individuals, or…

Walter Schnepel: …… in effect yes. One member of the museum staff was sent one piece, their colleague another piece and then the complete lamp was assembled in the museum. Completely unimaginable these days but back then it was the only option.

smow blog: Coming back to the Wagenfeld Lamp, that was designed in the 1920s, entered production, properly, in 1980, in how far were changes required or could you take over Wagenfeld’s design 1:1?

Walter Schnepel: We needed to make technical changes. We could largely keep the dimensions of the original but changes in technology meant, for example, we had to use a different cables or socket types.

smow blog: And how was the cooperation with Wilhelm Wagenfeld during this process, how did you experience him as a partner?

Walter Schnepel: I had to take every new variation or adaptation to him and he would inspect it and approve it, or not. He was very exact, but as a process it worked very well and he was very easy to work with.

smow blog: One can’t discuss the Wagenfeld Lamp without discussing the copies. Were they there from the very beginning or…..?

Walter Schnepel: For the first five or six years we had our peace, and then it started and hasn’t stopped since.

smow blog: Which poses the question as to why it hasn’t stopped, is it not something you can legally suppress?

Walter Schnepel: The biggest problems we have are on the one hand the differing legal situations, for example in countries such as England we have no real protection and it is very difficult, but even when a legal framework is in place we don’t always get the support from national authorities that we need. There are countries such as Switzerland or Holland where things work very well but then there are countries such as France where it is complicated, or Italy where it can take seven years just to get a court appointment, and even when the court decides in your favour that needn’t mean anything. So it’s difficult, but we remain as committed as ever and our lawyers are kept busy.
In addition we continually try to educate consumers as to the quality advantages of the original, and for all the safety aspects, a lot of the copies that we see are extremely dangerous, we’re talking about an electrical object and so not something where one should take chances.

smow blog: To end, you’re clearly convinced of the enduring importance of Bauhaus, but do you think today’s young designers can learn from Bauhaus, is Bauhaus still relevant?

Walter Schnepel: When you look at, for example, art, there are always movements who make a decisive cut, and then there are other movements that are simply an indirect repetition of something similar which has gone before. Expressionism, for example, finds a indirect repetition in Tachisme, but then there are moments that are decisive changes, for me that is Duchamp and Magritte. It’s similar with design. For me the functionality, the form follows function, that Bauhaus brought to design and through which they enlivened design, that for me that is cut Bauhaus created and is the central importance and relevance of Bauhaus. Ultimately the whole design world is and was deeply influenced by what Bauhaus taught.

WA 24 Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld Tecnolumen

WA 24 “Bauhaus Lamp” by Wilhelm Wagenfeld through Tecnolumen

Posted in Bauhaus, Designer, Producer, Product, Tecnolumen Tagged with: , , , , ,

Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen
May 22nd, 2014 by smow

“The purpose of an object is of secondary importance” claimed the German designer and artist Wilhelm Wagenfeld, “the use however is more relevant, explains the multi-faceted relationship of individuals to those objects which surround them. With use develops culture, the overcoming of a perceived raison d’etre”1

To celebrate their 20th anniversary the Bremen based Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation are currently hosting “Die Form ist nur Teil des Ganzen” – “The Form is Only a Part of the Composition” – an exhibition which not only explains how Wilhelm Wagenfeld dealt with the challenge of making “usable” objects but which much more helps explain that it is because Wilhelm Wagenfeld so adeptly rose to this challenge that his work, or at least a sizeable proportion of it, remains today as accessible and contemporary as it was then.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld Die Form ist nur Teil des Ganzen Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen Biography

Wilhelm Wagenfeld: The Form is Only a Part of the Composition at the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen

Born in Bremen on April 15th 1900 Wilhelm Wagenfeld initially apprenticed as a technical drawer with Bremen based silversmiths Koch & Bergfeld before training as a silversmith in Hanau. In 1923 Wilhelm Wagenfeld joined the metal workshop at Bauhaus Weimar and subsequently moved with the institute to Dessau where in 1926 he was appointed assistant before in 1928 taking command of the metal workshop. In 1930 Wagenfeld left Bauhaus and began working for a range of industrial companies as a freelance designer and consultant, most notably Jenaer Glaswerk Schott, Rosenthal and the Vereinigten Lausitzer Glaswerke in Weißwasser, a company whose creative department he led during the War years. Post World War II Wagenfeld relocated to Stuttgart where alongside cooperations with the likes of WMF and Lindner he established his own experimental workshop, “Werkstatt Wagenfeld.” In addition to his design work Wilhelm Wagenfeld was a prolific author, co-founded the German design magazine Form, was an active and vocal member of the Deutscher Werkbund and taught at the Hochschule für die bildenden Künste Berlin. Wilhelm Wagenfeld died in Stuttgart on May 28th 1990.

With “The Form is Only a Part of the Composition” the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Foundation, under the leadership of Foundation Director Beate Manske, aim to provide a new impression of Wilhelm Wagenfeld, to throw new light on the man and his work, “Until now we have only presented exhibitions which allowed an overview of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s oeuvre,”, explains Frau Manske, “but what they didn’t offer was a deeper insight into why Wagenfeld did what he did, how he thought and so ultimately why he became Germany’s most successful industrial designer”

To this end the Foundation are presenting Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s canon in context of five thematic sections, “Use”, “Changing Tastes and Form Giving”, “The Wagenfeld Workshop”, “Collaboration in Factories” and “Technical Innovation”, each section being illustrated by relevant examples of Wagenfeld’s work, original sketches, prototypes and presentations of the various development and/or production stages of products and product types. A final section presents a briefest of brief overviews of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s oeuvre including objects created during his days at Bauhaus and examples of his commercial projects for and with some of his most important clients, including Vereinigten Lausitzer Glaswerke, WMF, Rosenthal and Jenaer Glaswerk Schott.

In addition to the well known Wilhelm Wagenfeld classics such as his Bauhaus Lamp, Jenaer Glass teapot or the “Kubus-Geschirr” storage system, the exhibition presents a range of articles often as banal as they are fascinating, including a punch bowl that in a wonderful parallel development to his glass teapot has a central glass “void” into which ice can be placed to chill the punch. That ice and punch are separated the inevitably melting ice can’t water down the punch. And once the ice has melted it can simply be replaced with fresh. Genius. Further exhibits include, for example, ink bottles, an apple grater, a mustard jar with integrated spoon and no end of butter dishes. As we say, banal but fascinating.

One of the most intriguing objects in the exhibition is “Combi” a combination record player/radio Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed for Braun in 1955. According to a quote in the exhibition from Erwin Braun Combi represented his and his brother Artur Braun’s “first lesson in industrial design.”
In 1956 Braun launched the now classic, if not iconic, SK4 record player/radio by Hans Gugelot and Dieter Rams. Had the Braun’s decided to stay with their “first lesson”, and Wagenfeld’s design, the history of post-war German design could/would have been very different. As would the physical appearance of your iPad.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld Die Form ist nur Teil des Ganzen Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus Bremen Bauhaus

Products created during Wilhelm Wagenfeld's time at Bauhaus

What immediately catches your attention in the exhibition is the famous, almost clichéd, unremarkableness of the majority of Wagenfeld’s output. The secret to achieving this mundaneness is the care and attention with which Wagenfeld created his products; not just in terms of crafting them but in observing how people used objects and in considering how future use would vary compared to contemporary use. A care and attention that means you don’t notice the object because it is so natural. Obvious. For Wilhelm Wagenfeld considerations on achieving this unremarkableness were always a starting point of his design process and guided his understanding of his responsibility throughout his career.

The Form is Only a Part of the Composition makes that very clear.

What the exhibition doesn’t do so well is look at the person behind the designer, explore in depth what drove Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Which we would class as important in an exhibition looking to get to the “inner core”. Yes some aspects are briefly touched upon, but the person Wilhelm Wagenfeld remains hidden behind the designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld, or perhaps better put the artist Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Yet ultimately one can’t place one before the other, the one influenced the other. And lest we forget Wilhelm Wagenfeld was active through some exciting, turbulent and important periods of European political, cultural and social history. It would be good to know how these affected his work.

What the exhibition also doesn’t do is inspire. At least not initially.

In short the exhibition presents objects in glass display cabinets illuminated by LED spotlights and all staged in white emulsioned rooms. A display concept that of course deprives the objects of the “use” Wagenfeld so diligently gave them, and which gives the impression that the form is indeed more than just a part of the composition. But then to be fair, presenting a collection largely composed of glass and ceramic is always going to present curatorial challenges.

In addition one must add, and with the best will in the world, the Wilhelm Wagenfeld House isn’t especially suitable as a museum. The space is too sterile, too airless, the room division and inner architecture being such that you always have the feeling you are in a corridor. Never that you are in a space where you are expected to linger for longer than absolutely necessary.

But don’t be put off by the dry presentation format. Please. The Form is Only a Part of the Composition is a well conceived and thought through exhibition that very nicely highlights and explains key aspects of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s approach to his work without overburdening the visitor, and which serves as a nice guide as to how to design products that maintain their charm, their allure and for all their use for generations to come.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld: Die Form ist nur Teil des Ganzen can be viewed until Sunday September 28th at the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus, Am Wall 209, 28195 Bremen.

Full details, including opening times and ticket prices, though sadly only in German, can be found at www.wwh-bremen.de

1. Unreferenced quote to be found in the exhibition

Posted in Bauhaus, Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Producer, Product, Tecnolumen Tagged with: , , ,

smow thonet wagenfeld promotion
May 6th, 2014 by smow

“When”, we asked in context of the Grassi Leipzig exhibition Sitting – Lying – Swinging. Furniture from Thonet, “does an exhibition about Thonet chairs become a sales promotion for Thonet chairs?”

In the case of the Grassi exhibition, we concluded, it doesn’t.

When however does a blog post about a Thonet exhibition becomes an advertisement for Thonet chairs.

Round about now.

For by way of celebrating the Sitting – Lying – Swinging, an exhibition on “home turf” as it were, (smow) have teamed up with Thonet and Bremen based manufacturer Tecnolumen to organise an exhibition special offer: Purchase four Thonet S 32 or S 64 chairs and receive a free Tecnolumen Wilhelm Wagenfeld WA 23 SW, WA 24, WG 24 or WG 25 GL lamp.

Our gift. Your choice.

The Thonet Exhibition Special is valid in all orders placed through (smow) online until Sunday September 14th 2014, as long as stocks last.

Full details and order information can be found at: smow.com

smow thonet wagenfeld promotion

Thonet Exhibition Special: Buy Four Thonet Chairs. Recieve a Free Tecnolumen Wilhelm Wagenfeld Lamp

Posted in Designer, Producer, Product, smow, Tecnolumen, Thonet Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

December 18th, 2012 by smow

With over 100 members of the public getting in touch and 59 fake Wilhelm Wagenfeld WG 24 lamps being exchanged for licensed originals, Bremen based manufacturer Tecnolumen have declared themselves very satisfied with their recent “No Fake” promotion.

Not least because they sense an increased and increasing awareness amongst consumers as to the problems associated with unlicensed copies; especially in association with Bauhaus era products

Among the more interesting points made by the company in their post promotion press release is that the majority of those who got in touch said they had unwittingly bought a fake.

Without wanting to accuse anyone of lying, if you know a lamp would normally cost around Euro 400, and then you buy one for Euro 99.

Don’t tell us you didn’t smell anything fishy.

And certainly all those who admitted knowingly buying a copy told Tecnolumen they did so because the copy was cheaper.

Which for us tends to point towards an industry that needs to do more to explain why the products cost what they cost.

In the past we’ve written about the quality and safety issues than can arise when you invest in cheap copies. But what’s often less understood among consumers is that much contemporary and designer furniture isn’t mass produced in factories employing thousands of workers chained to conveyor belts.

It’s often produced in small, specialist workshops.

Last year, for example, we spoke to one European manufacturer who told us that if a product sells less than 20 pieces per year it is taken out of their collection.

Twenty. A year. That is not an operation that is optimised towards large scale 24 hour production.

Or on our recent visit to the Müller Möbelwerkstatt factory in Augsburg we met a small team producing each unit to order by hand. That’s the quality and guarantee you are paying for.

In the past designer furniture manufacturers have often staged media friendly events involving crushing pirated copies of their products, or have invested thousands sending out press releases explaining that they have won a court decision that protects their rights.

The effect of such actions can however only be limited. As those who come into contact with them still don’t understand why they should buy the more expensive licensed originals

Why not instead concentrate on preventing the purchase of copies in the first place through being more open and transparent about where and how the products are produced.
And so why they cost what they cost.

In doing so you don’t destroy the magic behind the product, rather increase the value of the product through association with quality, qualified production.

OK one should at the same also appeal for a more open debate about the level of licensing fees paid for designs over 50 years old in comparison to those paid for new works, but we appreciate that for reasons of “commercial sensitivity” such is unlikely. If in our opinion desirable.

Such an approach wouldn’t completely solve the problems as we still have the appalling lifestyle magazines and their depiction of quality as something visual: It looks like something high quality if must be something high quality. A situation that fires the plagiarism industry.

But it would be start in a positive, new direction……

wg24 Wilhelm Wagenfeld Bauhaus Lamp Tecnolumen

WG 24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld through Tecnolumen



Posted in Bauhaus, Designer, Producer, Tecnolumen Tagged with: , , ,

no fake tecnolumen
September 4th, 2012 by smow

Irritating as they are, forgers are rarely daft.

You only very occasionally find one purveying, for example, fake Billy Ray Cyrus albums. Or fake Greek State Bonds.

They prefer to stick to things they are certain they can sell with ease.

Which is why Bauhaus furniture is so highly regarded by professional forging gangs.

Not only is everyone familiar with the important pieces, but it all looks so simple. Who can tell the difference?

However, aside from the potential safety issues, a copy never lives up to the construction quality of the original nor bestows that ineffable extra value a quality produced object brings to a space.

And so most people realise far too late that the price that seemed too good to be true. Was.

One of the most commonly copied Bauhaus era products is the WG 24, one of the so-called Bauhaus Lamps by Wilhelm Wagenfeld.  A piece that fits perfectly into the categories “instantly recognisable” and “much sought-after”

And so as part of a campaign to highlight the problem of fake furniture design classics, the Bremen based producer, and sole licence holder and so sole authorised producer of the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Bauhaus Lamps, Tecnolumen are offering to exchange your unauthorised WG 24 copy for the real thing.

A chance, as it were, for all victims of unscrupulous dealers to finally get the product they thought they were purchasing.

The promotion runs from September 15th 2012 until November 15th 2012, is however only open to private individuals resident in Germany. And is limited to the first 100 applicants

Full details on “No Fake”, including the somewhat detailed terms and conditions can be found at www.no-fake.info

wg24 Wilhelm Wagenfeld Bauhaus Lamp Tecnolumen

WG 24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld

no fake tecnolumen

Posted in Bauhaus, Designer, Producer, Product, Tecnolumen Tagged with: , , ,

April 13th, 2010 by smow
Wilhelm Wagenfeld

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (Photo © Wilhelm Wagenfeld Stiftung)

While we are in Milan enriching the good and fair minded hoteliers of the north-Italian Metropolis; life here in Germany will continue in its normal, non-bloodsucking, non-money grabbing way.

Oh yes, we’re bitter. And we don’t believe that all the other Milan attendees find the hotel prices fair. Just they are too cowardly to publicly complain. Milan Design Week is a rip off and everybody knows it. Just know one dare speak it…..

However, back to the topic in hand.

Thursday 15th April sees the opening of a retrospective of the work of Bremen born designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Organised by the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Stiftung the exhibition shows for the first time Wagenfeld’s produced work in conjunction with original sketches, advertising and packaging. In addition letters, photos and private documents allow the exhibition to present a full, 360 degrees, impression of the man, his life and his work.

As with Marianne Brandt – his former colleague in the Bauhaus metal workshop – Wilhelm Wagenfeld belonged to that group of Bauhaus graduates who concentrated on created everyday items: a specialisation that places a particular emphasis on the designers understanding of aesthetic, form and geometry.


Teekanne for Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Gen., Wilhelm Wagenfeld, 1931,© Wilhelm Wagenfeld Stiftung, Foto Jens Weyers, Bremen

Not that Wagenfelds work was only art. Products such as Tea Pot for Jena Glass beautifully demonstrates how Wagenfeld’s work was also practical and always undertaken from the perspective of the final end user.

Industrial design for the individual.
And that 40 years before industrial design even existed.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s most famous design, the so-called Bauhaus lamp WA 24, is naturally also part of the exhibition.

For those wanting to better understand Wilhelm Wagenfeld “Weiterwirken in die Zeit hinein”  looks like an excellent starting point.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld “Weiterwirken in die Zeit hinein” runs from 16th April until 12th September 2010 in the Wilhelm Wagenfeld Haus, Am Wall 209, 28195 Bremen.

Full details can be found here.


German stamp with the "Bauhaus Lamp" EA 24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld.Entwurf Ingo Wulff, 1998

Posted in Designer, Producer, Product, smow offline Tagged with: , , , , ,

December 11th, 2009 by julius

Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Save for a company from South Tirol,
In hopes that unwary Christmas shoppers would buy their illegal unlicensed copies of Bauhaus classics

In a lesser known version of his 1822 classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, Clement Clarke Moore eerily predicted events some 180 years later whereby, as part of a Christmas sales promotion, a “known” producer of unlicensed copies of Bauhaus classics advertised their cheap Chinese imports using phrases such as “Bauhaus furniture”, “Bauhaus classics” or “Bauhaus chairs”; all coupled with photos of the featured designers.

Bauhaus - design principle and global brand

Bauhaus - design principle and global brand

In February 2009 the Landgericht in Hamburg decided this was illegal as it deliberately led customers to believe that they were buying original, licensed products – when in fact they were buying cheap Chinese tat. In December 2009 the appeal judges upheld this decision.
And so, in Germany at least, one can only advertise and sell as “Bauhaus” official licensed originals of the works by designers such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray or Marcel Breuer.

We know from the conversations we have and correspondence we receive that the subject of licensed versus unlicensed products is a controversial one.
We also however know from experience that cheap, unlicensed products surreptitiously marketed under the designers name but which bear no relationship to the original designer, producer or indeed the production process, materials or machinery, are not only always poorly made -and so while they may be cheaper than an officially licensed product they represent much less value for money – but are in many cases also dangerous.

There is a reason the original designer objects cost more than the copies… and it isn’t pure greed.

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection... an all too common sight

Mart Stam copies awaiting collection... an all too common sight

As we say such court decisions are only made in Germany and so while consumers here have a degree of protection from those hoping to make a quick buck on the back of someone elses work, consumers in other countries are not. A situation hardly helped when large retailers such as amazon happily work with companies who market and sell products which, as with the Bauhuas designs featured in the Hamburg case, are deliberately marketed in such a fashion that the consumer believes they are getting something original when in fact they are getting something very cheap, very Chinese and potentially very dangerous.
And so take care when shopping this Christmas, especially with “too good to be true” online prices for designer furniture from Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen or any of the Bauhaus protagonists; and before purchasing always check with the retailer if the products are original licensed versions – and if in doubt check with the licensed producer of the originals they can always advise if a product is genuine or not.

The Bauhaus lawyer sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, buy safely and to all a good-night!”

Posted in Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

August 7th, 2009 by julius
Bauhaus signet

Bauhaus signet

We’re just a touch late with this one, but since July 22nd the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin has been showing the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model“.

For the first time, the three German Bauhaus institutions – Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Museum für Gestaltung, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar – are uniting to present a comprehensive Bauhaus retrospective. “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” recounts the story of the Bauhaus in a comprehensive presentation of the works of its masters and students – including a number of lesser known and not regularly displayed works. In addition the exhibition looks at principles that dominated the school and it’s work: inter-disciplinary, experimental teaching, the concept of practice-oriented workshops, the pursuit of answers to social questions, the propagation of timeless aesthetics as well as experimentation with new procedures and materials in architecture and design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

Few movements have left such a lasting impression on furniture design as Bauhaus from it’s short inter-war intermezzo.

Designs such as Mart Stams cantilever chair, the Bauhaus Lamp from Wilhelm Wagenfeld or the „Wassily“ chair by Marcel Breuer stand as testament to the quality and ingenuity of those involved. In addition popular (smow) products such as the Eiermann table frame or the new Eileen Gray range from ClassiCon have their roots firmly in Bauhaus and the approach to design and functionality that was developed there.

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't Bauhaus but had close contacts with the protagonists

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't attend Bauhaus, but had very close contacts with the protagonists

We’ve not seen “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” , however for the organisers “the early works of the Bauhaus masters are highlights. They document why Feininger, Klee, Kandinsky et al were summoned to the school as masters. Works by masters and students created during their sojourn at the Bauhus demonstrate the fast-paced creative development of the school. Among other objects, the “Gropius Folder” can be seen, which was presented to the director of the Bauhaus as a birthday gift in 1924. The visitor will be amazed by the “African Chair”, created and constructed by Marcel Breuer and the weaving artist Gunta Stölzl in 1921. For eighty years it was assumed to have been lost, and is quite contradictory to Breuer’s wide reputation as the designer of the steel tube furniture. Breuer’s first “Club chair” from 1926 can also be seen, as well as Johannes Itten’s four-metre-high “Tower of Fire” from 1920. The “Draft of a socialist city” by Reinhold Rossig and the “Bauhaus Dress” by Lis Vogler from 1928 are exemplary representatives of the unknown works that originated in the workshops.”

Which sounds fantastic

If your in or near Berlin, Germany the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” runs until October 4 and is open daily. More information at http://www.modell-bauhaus.de/

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, smow offline Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vitra Cushions
July 29th, 2009 by julius

It’s Dumfries Show on Saturday.

That won’t mean much to the most people, but for us it is a sure sign.

Winter is coming.
We know, we know. Barely have we got use to remembering to take our sunglasses to work, buying ice-creams for lunch or waking up at 5 am because we forgot to shut the curtains – again – than the Dumfries Agricultural Society hold their annual show.
And after the Dumfries show the evenings get shorter with increasing rapidity and before you know it the ground will be brown with dying leaves.

Oh Joy!

And so the time is surely rife to start thinking about lighting for the dark months ahead. Below are a few of our suggestions, in addition to our previous favourites from the spring design shows.


FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell

FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell

In the first half of 2009 Italian producer Kartell invested a lot of marketing effort into promoting their lighting range, or The Kartellights Collection to give it its correct name. Which is no bad thing. For most Kartell is all about Philippe Starck‘s chairs, Ron Arad’s Bookworm or Philippe Starck’s chairs, and too little attention is given to their lighting collection. One of the true highlights in the collection is FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani. Made in transparent methacrylate, the cover of FL/Y is not perfectly hemispherical but, rather, the cut-off is underneath the height of the diameter allowing it to collect the most light.  In addition, the special transparency of the material combined with the sheen of the colours bring to mind a soap bubble, iridescent with reflections of light. FL/Y by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell is available in 9 transparent colours and opaque black and white.


Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide

Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide

It takes a brave producer to take what is in essence a table lamp design and scale it up to a floor version. But that is pretty much what the idea behind Talak Lettura by Neil Poulton for Artemide. At 139 cm high, the intention with Lettura is not a lamp to illuminate a whole room, but much more – and as the name implies – it is a floor standing reading lamp. [Lettura is Italian for reading for all who have not been to Milan] The lighting element itself is embedded in the vertical arm, and is available as either an LED or a fluorescent unit. The vertical arm can be rotated round 360 degrees meaning that you can position it over a desk for working/reading and then – assuming your room is correctly laid out – swing it round to allow you to continue to read in your favourite armchair. With its intense, warm light Talak Lettura not only adds an attractive ambience to a room on account of it’s stylish minimal design, but also through it’s illumination.

Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Much adored, much copied, only buy originals

WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld from Tecnolumen

WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld from Tecnolumen

Having bought Eileen Gray’s Roquebrune chair to place next to your Eiermann Table you will of course be looking for the perfect lamp to complete your informal study corner at home. The WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld was created by the young designer shortly after his admission to the Bauhaus workshop in Weimar. The result of an assignment given to him by Hungarian designer and Bauhaus Professor László Moholy-Nag, the lamp can in many ways be considred as ther starting point of Wagenfeld’s design career. As with almost all famous designs from the Bauhaus period, the Wagenfeld lamp’s are amongst the most copied of all industrialal designs, and purchasers should be wary of buying cheap replicas where quality craftsmanship has been sacrifice din favour of profit. All Wagenfeld lamps sold by (smow) are, as with all products (smow) sell, officially licensed originals – in the case of the WA24 by Wilhelm Wagenfeld that means from Tecnolumen, Bremen.


Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark for moooi

Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark for moooi

If we start a post with a sentence like “And now a lamp for those looking for a little different”, it can only mean one thing … moooi. On this occasion we’re going to forgo the insane beauty of Horse Lamp by Front and instead recommend Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark. If we’re honest when we first saw pictures of the Clusterlamp we thought it was a joke. A big, fat unfunny Dutch joke.

And then felt a little guilty after seeing it “in real life” as we realised that although it unquestionably posses the inventive genius of a Laurel and Hardy or Helge Schneider, it isn’t funny.

The PR text from moooi talks of it evoking experimentation with ambient expression, and while that may be true, for us the true charm of Clusterlamp is the fact that you only notice it when it’s switched off. We’re not going to pretend it looks particularly attractive, or that it is a lamp for every situation, but with it’s pleasant, inoffensive illumination and radical design Clusterlamp by Joel Degermark is definitely a lamp for …. you know the rest. Clusterlmap is available with a choice of three bulb sets (each set conatining five bulbs). The bulb sets can also be purchased separately for those looking to mix and match.

Vitra Cushions

Cushions from Vitra

Cushions from Vitra.

No they don’t light up, but what’s the point in creating a pleasantly lit environment if you can’t get comfortable with a good cushion or six. Vitra offer two ranges of cushions each covered with fabrics from US producer Maharam. The Maharam collection “Textiles of the 20th Century” is a range of re-issues of some of the most important designs in the Maharam archives. These include such classics as Geometri by Verner Panton, Small Dot Pattern by Charles and Ray Eames or Millerstripe by Alexander Girard. “Repeat” is a series of re-workings of classic designs from the archives of a Swiss mill by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. For the Vitra cushion range three of the designs – stripe, hounds-tooth and dot ring – are available in range of colours. Both ranges offer not only exquisite design to finish off and compliment any interior, but also something soft and friendly to hold when you want to relax of a damp autumn evening after a hard days work. Depending on the design chosen the type of fabric does vary and so please check with (smow) before ordering.

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Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Much adored, much copied, only buy originals
April 1st, 2009 by julius
Bauhaus signet

Bauhaus signet

One of Europe’s most important design institutions today celebrates the 90th anniversary of its establishment.

For fans of purist design Bauhaus is the first and last word. Designs such as the B3 “Wassily Chair” by Marcel Breuer, the Nesting Tables from Josef Albers or the WA24 lamp form Wilhelm Wagenfeld defining an approach to the combination of style and form that has lost none of its modernity nor individuality over the decades.

Where the furniture and buildings rarely strayed from the typical  clear, simplistic Bauhaus form the paintings and graphic art represent a chaotic, out of control world view.

And it is not too far fetched to claim that no other design movement has had such a long lasting effect on design, nor been so cruelly brought to an end, that that set in motion by Walter Gropius and colleagues in 1919.

The coming months will see a range of events to mark the 90th anniversary of Bauhaus and we at smow will not only be present, but will use the opportunity to discuss the history and legacy of Bahuas with the care and criticism it deserves.

Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Much adored, much copied, only buy originals

Bauhaus Lamp by Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Much adored, much copied, only buy originals

The name Bauhaus, however, is more than just a benchmark for 20th century design it is also one of the most misused terms in furniture advertising. Google “Bauhaus furniture” and the first page will be a glorious selection of fakes and copies – generally originating from Italy, but also from eastern Europe and the USA. And so before buying any Bauhaus designs, always check the authenticity of the piece. The right to the Bauhaus works are spread across a wide-range of producers such as Thonet, Knoll and Tecnolumen, and it is always important to check that the product you want to buy is from the correct producer. Or you buy from smow. We can supply a wide range of designs from Bauhaus designers, all guaranteed as being produced under official license.

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Wilhelm Wagenfeld (Photo: designlines.de)
January 30th, 2009 by julius
Tecnolumen WG 25 GL

Tecnolumen WG 25 GL

There are a range of Bauhaus classics that on account of their form, history or there functionality are universally known and admired. To this group belongs the so-called „Bauhaus Lamp“ from Wilhelm Wagenfeld. The “Bauhaus Lamp”,officially known as WG 25 GL , is protected by copyright and may only be produced by TECNOLUMEN® smow naturally only offer the copyrighted and from Prof. Wagenfeld authorised edition.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed the „Bauhaus Lamp“ during his time at Bauhaus in Weimar in the early 1920s. He was fascinated by glass and its association with „frozen light“ inspired him to produce his WG 25 GL light; over an unobtrusive base hangs an opaque glass globe.

When in 1931 Wagenfeld switched from academia to industry (he worked, for example, with the Vereinigten Lausitzer Glaswerken, Schott Glass in Jena, WMF , the porcelain producer Rosenthal and later for Lufthansa) he considered himself as an “artistic industrialist”. Attractive designs should be serial produced with the lowest possible effort, being his motto. In the course of these co-operations Wagenfeld produced a number of timeless pieces including his Jena Glass Tea Set.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (Photo: designlines.de)

Wilhelm Wagenfeld (Photo: designlines.de)

smow stock the following Wagenfeld lamps from TECNOLUMEN®:

WG 25 GL – Glass base

WA 24 – Metal base

WA 23 SW – Black lacquered base

WG 24 – Clear glass

GL/WA – replacement glass globe

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