Design and Interior Architecture in Germany, 1700-2000


Fall 2014


2nd Floor Classroom


Ulrich Leben

This course will investigate Germany as a center for the decorative arts (including interior decoration and furniture) between 1700 and 2000. It aims to situate the German decorative arts as a creative force in the crosscurrents of European culture and taste. Religious divisions between the Catholic regions in southern and western Germany and the Protestant regions of the east and north caused differences in political structures, which in return impacted style and taste. The eighteenth century saw a strong influence of French aristocratic art, which found individual interpretation in the German provinces, since the French prototypes were too expensive and were merely known through drawings or printed documents. Through the migration of craftsmen from Germany to the great capitals of Europe such as London, Paris, and Petersburg, and later the United States, German craftsmanship affected production in all these countries. The sober and elegant forms of the Biedermeier Period of the nineteenth century displayed new attempts at creating a purely German style and had varying degrees of international success. The Jugend movement and the Bauhaus school established successful designers and creators who brought their vision abroad when many were forced into emigration after 1933. The 1920s saw a multitude of engaging and non-conventional design solutions, many of which have been completely forgotten. The dark years of the Third Reich were followed by a research of reconciliation and connection with international trends, which often were realized only with the modest means of a country that had lost the war. The main artistic currents and centers for the creation and the manufacture of fine furniture, art objects, and porcelain (Augsburg, Dresden, München, Dessau and Berlin) will be presented and discussed. 3 credits.