The Leipzig lamp manufacturer Kandem, short for Körting & Mathiesen, was founded in 1889, and is closely connected with the Bauhaus, as its vanguard designs were taken up by Kandem and industrially produced.
Körting & Mathiesen were at first working in public outdoor lighting, until they changed their focus to interior lighting in the 1920s. Kandem had excelled with their enormous technical progressiveness from an early point on, however, it was the Bauhaus that would provide them with the suitable industrial design from 1928 to 1933.
Lamp design was a special field of interest at the Bauhaus from 1924 on, at first in manual form (Wagenfeld and Jucker), but soon also with an eye on industrial production. The artist with the greatest importance in this respect was Marianne Brandt (1893-1983), an entry in her notebook from 3 February 1928 hints at the co-operation of Kandem and Bauhaus. The integration of designs from the Bauhaus` metal workshop was carried out on the basis of a contract specifying "artistic consulting " - the technically advanced Kandem lamps were thus given their typical design.
Marianne Brandt, who had meanwhile been appointed interims head of the metal workshop, organized the co-operation with Kandem, a co-operation that gave both participants the opportunity to combine advanced technologies and industrial mass production. Hin Bredendieck soon joined the Kandem activities, just as Hermann Gautel and other students of the metal workshop. The close co-operation made the Bauhaus artists take the step from manual production of unique pieces to an industrially made consumer product. The Kandem-Bauhaus lamps became precursors for industrial design.
Two early designs were to become the greatest successes of this co-operation: towards the end of 1928 Kandem presented a plain desk lamp (no. 679) consisting of large parts that were designed by Marianne Brandt and Hin Bredendieck and a bedside lamp (no. 680), both works have been seminal up until today. Numerous lamps followed, and Kandem had sold more than 50.000 Bauhaus lamps in a matter of a few years. Kandem-Bauhaus models that were made by different members of the metal workshop, were also presented in many exhibitions.
Marianne Brandt, who had shaped the Kandem joint venture from an early point on, had to give in as early as in 1929: internal quarrels had spoiled her activities for the Bauhaus, additionally, Hannes Meyer, the new director, had combined the metal workshop and the mural and carpentry workshops in summer 1929, resulting in a stronger emphasis on furniture design.
The co-operation with Kandem, which was in the end based on an individual contract with the last director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, ended in 1933, the same year the Bauhaus was shut down. The production of Kandem-Bauhaus lamps was continued and became, especially the designs by Marianne Brandt, milestones in design history.
Cf.: Bauhausleuchten? Kandemlicht! Die Zusammenarbeit des Bauhauses mit der Leipziger Firma Kandem (= Bauhaus Lighting? Kandem Light!), ex. cat. Museum für Kunsthandwerk Leipzig, Stuttgart 2002.