By Julia Ritson
She made dustpans, clocks, lamps, and light shades and was to become one of the great success stories of the Bauhaus, the German school of design founded in 1919.
Marianne Brandt was first a student then a teacher of metal work at the Bauhaus. Traditionally, Bauhaus women were popped into the textiles department and Brandt had to work hard to be accepted into the metal workshop.
At the time, the master of materials and form, László Moholy-Nagy, was in charge of the metal workshop.
When Brandt first arrived, fancy table top items were the focus of the workshop. These concise silver and bronze pieces were made in 1924. Articles for every day use.
Brandt was the only female student and wasn't immediately welcomed into the male group.
At first I was not accepted with pleasure - there was no place for a woman in a metal workshop, they felt. They admitted this to me later on and meanwhile expressed their displeasure by giving me all sorts of dull, dreary work. Later things settled down, and we all got along well together.
In the late 1920's there was a strategy of trying to integrate art and technology. They were attempting to make art objects for a mass market.
At one point the school needed decent lighting solutions to fit the new design aesthetic and the brief was given to the Metal team to come up with solutions. Here are the adjustable lamps hanging in the weaving workshop, designed by Marianne Brandt and Hans Przyrembel in 1927.
The idea of making lighting fixtures out of shallow glass dishes attached directly to the ceiling probably came about in the metal workshops of the Bauhaus. Also the the idea of combining opaque and frosted glass, of making lighting fixtures of aluminium and of designing ceiling fixtures with glass cylinders appears to have first been thought of in the Bauhaus.
This glass globe was designed in 1926 and manufactured by a firm in Berlin. Good modern industrial design.
The much imitated "Kandem" bedside-table lamp was designed by Brandt in 1927. It was then produced by Körting & Matthiesen in Leipzig. From 1928 to 1932 this company often sought advice from the Bauhaus for its designs of light fixtures and desk lamps. During these years more than fifty thousand Bauhaus designed lamps were sold.
You can buy one today on ebay for US$2,750.
Julia Ritson is a Melbourne artist. Her paintings investigate colour, abstraction and a long-standing fascination with the grid. Julia has enriched and extended her studio practice with a series of limited edition art scarves. She also produces an online journal.
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