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Individual versus Typical. Deutscher Werkbund.

The following is an extract from my research into the concept of "quality" in Deutscher Werkbund  at the turn of the XX century.


At the turn of the 20th century in Germany, industrialisation led to a disconnect between the artist and their product. In response to the fears of cultural decay, the Deutscher Werkbund, an association of artists and craftsmen, was established in 1907. While its goal was to improve the quality of German design, it never officially defined the concept of quality. Its members theorised about it for years, but the debate between proponents for mass production and individualists broke out and swayed the historical interest away from quality.

In this study, the statements of the key figures of the Werkbund – Henry van de Velde, Hermann Muthesius, and Friedrich Naumann – are analysed to distil their theories on quality. The ideas behind quality creation, such as the production process and the physical characteristics of a product, are uncovered. When the stylistic discrepancies and historiographical biases are ignored, we see that the actors were trying to achieve the same goal – the highest quality – despite the multiplicity of opinions.

This study defines approaches to preserve the quality of products and work in a highly industrialised society. It outlines the ideas of personal creative freedom on the rise of mass production. These ideas are the lessons of those at the forefront of 20th-century industrialisation and are still relevant in present-day society.


Read the full study using the link below:

Individual versus Typical. The hidden definition of quality in the Deutscher Werkbund