ARCH222:Hermann Muthesius and Henry Van De Velde from “theses” and “counter-theses” in Werkbund Congress

In this report, I’m going to give some information and make some explanation about Muthesius and Velde and their “theses” and “counter theses” and also I’m going to interpret some subjects like “why their perspectives are different from each other?” etc. Firstly, I will explain the lives of these two architect and Deutscher Werkbund. Secondly, I will explain the content of these theses.

Hermann Muthesius was a German architect, author and diplomat. He was promoting many ideas of the English Arts and Crafts Movement within Germany. When he completed the study, he worked in Tokyo and completed his first building A German Evangelical Church with gothic revival style. After that, he studied for Prussian ministry of public works. In addition, he served as the editor of a construction jounal. He followed this with his treatise “Stilarchitektur and Baukunst” (1902) and praising the arts & crafts ideas of William Morris. However, unlike Morris, he accepted the qualities of some machine.

He focused the investigation and residential architecture and domestic lifestyle and design. He ended these studies with a book which was his more famous work , “ Das Englische Haus” (1904-1905). Muthesius also developed a career as an author, communicating his ideas and observations in an influential series of books and articles that saw him become a significant cultural figure in Germany. Then, he studied with the industrial desing and saw it as a significant national economic benefit for Germany. However, Muthesisus continued to move away from the concept of modernizing ornament. He supported the idea of standardization or stylization. This process of stylization in architecture may be understood as a gradual internalization of the initially external ends served by specific forms.

Henry Van De Velde was a Belgian painter, architect and interior designer. He studied painting at the famous Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Then, he went to study on Carolus-Duran in Paris. In 1982, he abondened painting and devoting his time to arts of decoration and interior design. For his work in this area, he considered as one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium. Bloemenwerf was his own house and his first attempt at architecture. He designed the house as well as the furnishings and inspired by Arts and Crafts movements and also in part by William Morris’ Red House. He was one of the first architect or interior designer to apply curved lines in an abstract style. He designed “Villa Leuring in Netherland” and “Villa Esche in Chemnitz” these two works show his Art Nouveau style in architecture. He also made interior design of Folkwang Museum in Hagen and Nietzsche House in Weimar. Although Belgium, he plays an important role in the German Werkbund.He set to his face against the copying historical style, resolutely opting for original design, banning bonatily and ugliness from people’s mind. He gave importance to the creative individuality of the artist.

The Deutscher Werkbund (1907) was a German assosiation of artists, architects, designers and individualists. It was to become an important event in the development of moderns architecture and industrial design. Its motto “ Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau” which means that “from sofa cushions to city-building” indicates its range of interest. Its initially purpose was to establish a partnerships of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global market. It consisted of twelve architect and twelve manufacturer one of them are Peter Behrens, Josef Hoffman, Hermann Muthesius. Hermann Muthesius had always wieved the Werkbund assosiation as the semi-official arm of government. Other architects affiliated with the project include Heinrich Tessenow and the Belgian Henry van de Velde. The Werkbund commissioned van de Velde to design a theatre for its 1914 Cologne Exhibition in Cologne.

With Cologne Exhibition, ıt was intended to provide a conspectus of the Werkbund’s work in the seven years since its foundation. In that time, Muthesius was the speaker and Velde was the best-known architect. When Muthesius proclaimed concentration and standardization as the aim of Werkbund design, while Velde advanced the contrary thesis of the artist as a creative individualist.

I’m going to compaire the against ideas in these debate. Muthesius mentioned in his theses generally about the standardization and stylization. He defenced that only through standardization we can recover universal significance(1. İtem). He believed that the world will demand their products when they used the stylistic expressions.(4. İtem). He also believed that creative development is to apply the things which have been already achieved and the way is most urgent task of the age and he defenced that ıf any deterioration entered into imitation,it loses its value (5.item). He believed that Werkbund as an association of artists, industrialists and merchants must concentrate on upon creating the preconditions for the export of its industrial arts(6.item). He strongly believed that the existence of large-scale business concerns with reliable good taste is a prerequiste of any export which means that old buildings or designes is reliable so that manufactorers show demand of our products(9.item).

However, according to Henry Van De Velde, he believed that through standardization, people can not think and they attempt to drive into a universally valid form(1.item). To use the same style, will begin the era of imitation(4. İtem) and to accept the stylization in design would be the destroy the embryo in the egg. He mentioned that these old traditions and old cultural tates will leave us behind, foreign countries will jump ahead of us(5.item). Of course, he believed that quality will not be created out of the spirit of export but it just need a time, gradually, the world will take notice of this quality such as Tiffany glasses, Copenhagen porcelain, jewellery by Jensen (9.item).


1.Philosophy and Architecture, Michael H. Mitias ,1994, Atlanta

2.Style-Architecture and Building-Art:Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth century and its present condition, Hermann Muthesius, 1994, USA



5.”Hermann Muthesius and the Introduction of the English Arts & Crafts Garden to Germany”, Garden History, 2000

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