* 1881 Mechernich
† 1919 Baltrum
Adolf Meyer, architect and designer, is regarded as one of the main figures of Bauhaus, even though his accomplishments had been outshined by his far more famous partner Walter Gropius for a long time.
Born in Mechernich/Eifel in 1881, Adolf Meyer at first completed an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker and worked in various furniture producing factories. He studied under Peter Behrens at the Düsseldorf School of Applied Arts from 1903 to 1907 and also attended the architecture class of Johannes Ludovicus Mathieu Lauwerik. Afterwards Adolf Meyer worked in the architecture firm of Peter Behrens in 1907 and 1908, which was the great talent factory of modern architecture in those days. The young architect changed to the studio of Bruno Paul in Berlin in 1909, however, just for a short time, as he joined Walter Gropius` firm in Berlin, where he would be promoted to be chief clerk.
Adolf Meyer quickly became Walter Gropius' closest colleague and co-operated in his early strokes of genius, for instance the design of the office floor of the "Faguswerk" (Fagus Factory) in 1911 and the Ideal Factory (Musterfabrik) for the exhibition of the Cologne Werkbund (Work Federation) in 1914. At the same time he was head of the design department of the Berlin steelwork "Breest & Co".
World War I interrupted Adolf Meyer's carrer as he had to serve from 1915 to 1918. Not long after the war Walter Gropius would call his longterm and highly valued colleague to the newly found Bauhaus in Weimar, where he made him head of the construction studio. Adolf Meyer taught industrial design and construction in his special position as exceptional master of architecture.
Up until 1925 Adolf Meyer was Walter Gropius` confidant and favorite staff member; his major contributions to many of Gropius` designs is proof thereof.
Adolf Meyer stayed in Weimar and worked as a free architect after the Bauhaus had changed its location to Dessau (1925). He made own works for a relatively short time, among them are the Jena observatory (1925), a relay station in Eschersheim (1928) or the League of Nations palace in Geneva (1927).
It was as early as in 1926 that Adolf Meyer moved to Frankfurt am Main, where he would become councillor for building and construction and professor for building construction, it was a time during which the architectural idea of a "New Frankfurt" was just aborning. The vanguard atmosphere in Frankfurt in 1926 was the appropriate surrounding for industrial buildings, for example the magazine and the coke oven of the gas works as well as the workshops of the power works, which were all made in a clear, plain and functional style and are regarded as the most important industrial constructions of the 1920s. Together with Mart Stam, Willi Baumeister and Josef Gantner, Adolf Meyer founded the "Frankfurter Oktobergruppe" (Frankfurt October Group) in 1928.
But Adolf Meyer did not only make architectural works, even though they occupy the largest part of his oeuvre, he also made numerous designs for high quality furniture, graphic works and room designs, all of which are obliged to the reduced and pure Bauhaus esthetic. Another focus of his oeuvre is on his lamp designs, which he was already working on intensively during his co-operation with Walter Gropius; a field into which he invested even more efforts after breaking up with Gropius, creating numerous lighting objects in an elegant and plain style. Among the most extensive projects of this kind are his designs of lamps for the Berlin Goerz-Werke and the Zeiss-Ikon-AG (1926 to 1929).
Adolf Meyer died on the island of Baltrum in 1929.
Cf.: Adolf Meyer. Der zweite Mann. Ein Architekt im Schatten von Walter Gropius; ex. cat. Bauhaus Archive, Museum für Gestaltung Berlin, Berlin 1994.