German Work Federation (Deutscher Werkbund )

The Deutsche Werkbund, founded in Munich in 1907, was not an artists group, but more of an association of scientists, artists, industrials and craftsmen, who all had the same reformatory goal in mind: To meliorate arts and crafts and to attain an aesthetic modernization of everyday life by joining forces. This universal approach made for a framework in which Modernism could prosper and form.
The founding members were 12 artists, among them Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer, Josef Olbrich, Bruno Paul and Richard Riemerschmid and 12 companies, the integration of the industry already expressed the groundbreaking approach of the Deutsche Werkbund.
The Deutsche Werkbund organized exhibitions as of 1914, these exhibitions gave impulses for the "Neues Bauen" (New Architecture) and the novel discipline of industrial design. Walter Gropius made the "Musterfabrik" (Model Factory) for the Cologne exhibition of the Werkbund in 1914; followed by "Form ohne Ornament" (Form without Ornaments) after the war in Berlin in 1924 and "Die Wohnung" (The Apartment) in Stuttgart in 1927, where the well-known Weißenhof Estate was built on the same occasion. "Wohnung und Werkraum" (Home and Workplace) was shown in Breslau in 1929, a year later the project "Das vorbildliche Serienerzeugnis" (The Ideal Series Product) in Hanover and in Paris the same years the "Gemeinschaftsräume im Wohnhaus" (Recreation Rooms in Apartment Buildings). The exhibtion "Der billige Gebrauchsgegenstand" (The Inexpensive Object of Utility) was organized in Berlin in 1931 and a year later the show "Wohnbedarf" (Living Neccessities) in Stuttgart.
The exhibition names already hint at the focus of the Werkbund after World War I: industrially made consumer products and a rationalized housing construction and urban development. The trend-setting ideas of a functional "Neues Wohnen" (New Living) and "Neues Bauen" (New Architecture) were supported and promoted by the Werkbund. In order to achieve their goals, they also made use of numerous publications: Besides the "Mitteilungen des DWB" (Werkbund News), published from 1915 to 1919 and the yearbooks (1912-1916/17), the monthly magazine "Die Form" (1925-1934) is worthwhile mentioning, as it did not only present concepts of "Neues Bauen" (New Architecture), but also new typography and experimental design and photography.
Similar federations, all modeled after the German Work Federation, were initiated in Austria (1910) and Switzerland (1913); and also in France, England and the USA.
The federation's modern concepts were suddenly terminated by the National Socialists. After the forcible coordination in 1933/34, the federation was finally suspended. It was founded again in 1947, but its most important period was the time between the two world wars, in which the federation was a creative forum for the precursors of Modernism, offering opportunities to realize trend-setting ideas.

Cf.: 100 Jahre Deutscher Werkbund. 1907-2007, ex. cat. Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München, Akademie der Künste Berlin, München et al. 2007.