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Wilhelm Wagenfeld

Wilhelm Wagenfeld

*  1900 Bremen
† 1990 Stuttgart

Wilhelm Wagenfeld is rightly regarded as one of the most important and influential German industrial designers. Many of his designs are 20th-century classics, including the "MT9" table lamp, universally referred to as the "Wagenfeld lamp", which Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed at the Bauhaus in 1924. In 1980 Wilhelm Wagenfeld authorized a re-issue of it he had worked over himself by Tecnolumen in Bremen. Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed his "Jena Glass", heat-resistant covered glass bowls for the Schott & Gen. glassworks in Jena between 1935 and 1938; the Wagenfeld glass tea service dates from 1931. For VLG Weißwasser Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed "Kubus" stackable glassware in 1938. Celebrated and still in use are the many Cromargan stainless steel objects Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed for WMF, including his butter dish and egg cups as well as the salt and pepper set "Max und Moritz" (1954-1957), not to mention all the many timelessly beautiful Wagenfeld glass vases. In 1955 Wilhelm Wagenfeld designed the sleek cutlery used on board Lufthansa airliners. Born in Bremen, Wilhelm Wagenfeld served his apprenticeship as a silversmith at the Koch & Bergfeld silverware factory, starting in 1914. At the same time Wilhelm Wagenfeld also attended the Bremen Kunstgewerbeschule (1916-1919). For the years 1919-1922 Wagenfeld had a scholarship to study at the Hanau Drawing Academy but he also attended the Fachschule für Edelmetalle in the same city. From 1923 to 1925 Wilhelm Wagenfeld was enrolled at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where he became acquainted with László Moholy-Nagy and Christian Dell at the metalworking workshop. When the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, Wilhelm Wagenfeld remained in Weimar, becoming an assistant at the metals workshop at the Staatliche Bauhochschule in 1926; he was director of the Staatliche Bauhochschule from 1928 until it was disbanded in 1930. Between 1931 and 1935 Wilhelm Wagenfeld worked for the Schott & Gen. glassworks in Jena and subsequently for the Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke (VLG) Weißwasser. Wilhelm Wagenfeld also executed commissions on an individual basis for Hutschenreuther, Fürstenberg, and Rosenthal. From 1947 until 1949 Wilhelm Wagenfeld was a professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin. After that Wagenfeld taught at numerous other academies and institutes. In 1949 Wilhelm Wagenfeld moved to Stuttgart, where he became artistic director for metal and glass at the Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik (WMF), for whom he worked, with interruptions, until 1978. The work Wilhelm Wagendfeld did for WMF reveals the great designer at his most prolific and productive. In 1954 Wilhelm Wagenfeld opened a practice of his own in Stuttgart: the "Werkstatt Wagenfeld, Versuchs- und Entwicklungswerkstatt für Industriemodelle" (until 1978). Wilhelm Wagenfeld served as a design consultant to Pott/Solingen; for Peill & Putzler/Düren he designed lamps and later also glass goblets.