WILHELM WAGENFELD (1900 – 1990)
Wilhelm Wagenfeld was born in Bremen on April 15, 1900. After his apprenticeship at Koch & Bergfeld, a silverware factory in Bremen, Wagenfeld went to the drawing academy in Hanau. At the age of 23, Wilhelm Wagenfeld was accepted as a journeyman silversmith at the Bauhaus in Weimar.
László Moholy-Nagy was Wagenfelds´ teacher at the Bauhaus. Already in 1924, when he was his master, Wilhelm Wagenfeld presented the design for the lamp WG24: with its shade in the form of a spherical bell jar and a stand made of a green glass plate, the lamp is still an absolute design classic of the Bauhaus and is definitely one of the most famous designs of Wilhelm Wagenfeld – even today. The WG24 is often simply called “the Bauhaus lamp”.
In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to Dessau. Nevertheless, Wilhelm Wagenfeld stayed in Weimar and became an assistant at the metal workshop of the “Staatliche Bauhochschule” in Weimar. Three years later he became the director of this school.
But in 1930, the State School was closed again and Wagenfeld became a freelancer who worked for the glass factory Schott & Gen. in Jena. There Wilhelm Wagenfeld mainly designed tableware.
As an opponent of the National Socialists, Wilhelm Wagenfeld refused to join the NSDAP: as a result Wagenfeld was sent off to fight on the eastern front where he was later captured by the Russians. After his return, Wagenfeld was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin for a short time.
In 1954 Wilhelm Wagenfeld was drawn to Stuttgart where he founded his own studio called ”Werkstatt Wagenfeld“. Until 1978 he mainly designed durable goods for renowned manufacturers like WMF, Braun or Rosenthal. Many of his over 600 designs have not become design classics that are still produced today, but the designs of Wilhelm Wagenfeld stand for pioneering work in the field of industrial design in countless museums and exhibitions.
Wilhelm Wagenfeld died in Stuttgart on May 28, 1990.