Dikchya Pandey (2010UAR158)
Anuja Singh (2010UAR167)
Peter Behrens is one of the most influential 20th-century German
designers. At the beginning of the century, he brought forth outstanding
works in painting, architecture, graphic design and industrial design,
which exerted a huge influence in all these various fields for the
generations to come. He is viewed as the founder of modern objective
industrial architecture and modern industrial design
Born in Hamburg in 1868, Peter Behrens studied at the Hamburg
Kunstgewerbeschule [School for the Applied Arts] from 1886 to 1889
before attending the Kunstschule in Karlsruhe and the Düsseldorf Art
At first, he worked as a painter, illustrator and book-binder sort of like
He frequented the bohemian circles (the practice of an unconventional
lifestyle), the artistic circles of Munich (Jugendstil: a philosophy of
design of furniture, which was designed according to the whole building
and made part of ordinary life) and was interested in subjects related to
the reform of life-styles.
In 1899 Peter Behrens was appointed by Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of
Hesse-Darmstadt to the Mathildenhöhe artists' colony the Grand Duke
had just established in Darmstadt. There Behrens designed and built
his first house, his own dwelling. Designed as a total work of art, "Haus
Behrens" caused quite a stir; Behrens himself designed the architecture
and the interior with all its appointments and furnishings down to the
The building of this house is considered to be the turning point in his
life, when he moved away from Art Nouveau towards a sober and
austere style of design.
The house is organized about a dining and music room on the raised
ground floor, with a kitchen and additional services in the basement,
and the main bedrooms and studio space above.
While this format was quite typical for a small bourgeois' house, its
internal and external expression was unusual, particularly for its
combination of features drawn from the English Arts and Crafts
movement...with elements such as the high-pitched roof drawn from the
EARLY PROJECTS: TURBINENHALLE
In 1908-09 Behrens designed the AEG Turbinenhalle in Berlin, a
concrete, steel and glass factory building with an outspoken agenda.
In addition to architecture (housing for working men and their
families), Behrens also designed household electrical appliances,
standardizing the forms of their components and thus making them
interchangeable, which rationalized production.
AEG Turbinenhalle in Berlin
CONTRIBUTIONS IN MODERN
He was important for the modernist movement and several of the
movement's leading names in earlier stages of their careers.
1907, saw Peter Behrens founding a large architectural and design
practice in Berlin. Walter Gropius (up to 1910), Ludwig Mies van der
Rohe (1908-11), and Le Corbusier (1910-11) also worked there.
This joint studio was very productive and numerous architectural
commissions were realized, including the German embassy in St.
Petersburg (1911-12) and the IG Farben Höchst headquarters in
Frankfurt (1920-25), which showed the influence of Expressionism.
In 1926 Peter Behrens designed "New Ways", a private dwelling in
Northampton, which is regarded as an early example of the
International Modern style.
One of his last commissions, in 1938, was to plan new AEG
headquarters in Berlin.
German embassy in St. Petersburg
CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE DESIGN
In 1897 Behrens joined forces with other designers in Munich to
produce handmade utilitarian objects. In 1898 Peter Behrens
collaborated on designing the Berlin journal "Pan" and produced his
first furniture designs.
In 1906 Peter Behrens received his first commission from AEG
(Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft) to design advertising material
and was hired as an artistic consultant to work on a wide range of
projects. He was in charge of designing sales rooms, catalogues, price
lists, etc, thus using design for the first time to create a unified
appearance as the sign of corporate identity. This collaboration lasted
In October 1907 Peter Behrens joined several artists to found the
Deutscher Werkbund, inspired by the British Arts and Crafts
movement.-to promote crafts skills while leading into industrial
production which would be regarded of the same quality as hand made
Peter Behrens has designed china, glass objects and patterned linoleum
flooring for various companies.
LATER LIFE: TEACHING CAREER
In 1901-02 Peter Behrens taught at the Düsseldorf
Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1903 he left Mathildenhöhe, serving until 1907
as the director of the Düsseldorf Kunstgewerbeschule.
Peter also continued to teach, heading the architecture department of
the Vienna Akademie der Bildenden Künste from 1922 to 1936.
For the rest of his life he was head of the architecture department at
the Preußische Akademie der Künste in Berlin.