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Peter Behrens
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Behrens, Peter

Carroll Gantz
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Peter Behrens

German architect and designer who was born in Hamburg and studied painting at Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf schools of art (1886-1889). He co-founded the Munich Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk (United Workshops for Art in Handcraft) in 1897, and was professor of an artists colony in Darmstadt (1900-1903). He was director of the Düsseldorf School of Arts and Crafts from 1903-1907. In 1907, he was one of 12 founder-members of the Deutsche Werkbund (German Union of Work) which aimed to marry art and industry, and to develop a new machine aesthetic in education and industry. It was the first organization of industrial design, and it promoted German design at home and abroad. In 1912, it sent a 1,300-piece exhibition of its work, "Modern German Applied Arts, " to the Newark, New Jersey Museum of Art and other US institutions. He was also appointed chief artistic advisor at AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft ) from 1907-1914, where he initiated the first corporate identity program, designing architecture, graphics and products. His 1914 design of the AEG trademark is still recognizable today. In 1909 he designed the AEG Turbine Factory Hall in Berlin with a generous expanse of glass that foreshadowed the later work of his famous students (see below). He also designed a line of electric water kettles that allowed for 80 variations in three basic forms, using mass production of standardized components to create a wide variety of products. Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe all studied under him in his office that he opened in 1908. Thus, he can be described as a strong influence in the emergence of modern design. During and after WW I Behrens continued to practice as an architect. In 1922 he was appointed to the Vienna Academy of Graphic Arts, and in 1936 to a Master's architecture program at the Preussische Academy of Art in Berlin. In 1939, just before his death, he designed a new administration building for AEG in Berlin.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, DESIGN CHRONICLES--Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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