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Wolfgang Tümpel

Biographies
Wolfgang Tümpel

*  1903 Bielefeld
† 1978 Herdecke


After training as a goldsmith in Bielefeld while studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Wolfgang Tümpel switched to the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1922. There he attended the preliminary courses taught by Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, and Naum Slutzky. In 1924 he was admitted to the metalworking workshop by Christian Dell and László Moholy-Nagy while also collaborating on Oskar Schlemmer's theatre workshop. When the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau, Tümpel, along with Wilhelm Wagenfeld and others, left the school. He followed his teacher and friend, Gerhard Marcks, to Halle/Saale, where he continued his training as a silversmith at the Burg Giebichenstein Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1926 he passed his apprenticeship certificate examinations there. The following year he became a member of the Goldsmiths' Guild. That same year, 1927, he opened a workshop of his own in Halle, a "workshop for vessels, jewelry, lighting" even though he still had only journeyman status and would not take his master craftsman's certificate examinations until 1939. In 1929 he moved his workshop to Cologne but returned to his native Bielefeld in 1933. In 1951 Tümpel moved to Hamburg, where he taught 1951-1968 at the Landeskunstschule/Hochschule der Bildenden Künste as head of the metalworking class and also again opened a workshop of his own, this time in Hamburg-Ahrensberg. Both a goldsmith and silversmith, he was also a pioneering industrial designer, submitting standardized designs for mass production. Wolfgang Tümpel's elegant and functional designs unite the formal language of the Bauhaus with the standardization principles advocated by Burg Giebichenstein. The years he spent at the Bauhaus did not provide him with any really useful contacts to industry, much as he tried to forge such links. Tümpel was not successful in this endeavor until he went to Halle, where he continued to enlarge his range of contacts with great success from his workshop. His vast oeuvre reveals no signs of stagnation; Tümpel always strove for new approaches to design in his unceasing quest for "valid form". Silverware such as Tümpel's 1920s and 1960s tea and after-dinner coffee services, as well as his candelabra, liturgical vessels, and jewelry have achieved the same cult status as the products he designed for industry. Living by the slogan "modern but not modish", he never settled on a single style but rather created functional designs often based on volumetric forms that were suitable for industrial mass production. Examples of this dual approach to design are the cylindrical lamp Tümpel designed for Goldschmidt & Schwabe and his nickel-plated brass electric kettle (both 1927). From 1929 he worked for WMF (Württembergische Metallwaren Fabrik), designing metal objects. For Bruckmann & Söhne Tümpel designed silverware. The 1931 desk lamp model No. 03086 he designed for Bünte & Remmler is one of the earliest mass-produced lighting fixtures, featuring a tubular bulb (festoon lamp) as the sourc of light.