Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Introducing German design style

Design in Germany is somewhat different from the overall design style in England, France or the United States.
Not so much in modern architecture, but in interior design. I am thinking in broad terms here and I am aware that modern design exists here as well. I am talking about a wider, most popular design feeling.
While these three (I compare these, since I know them best) still take a mainly classic traditional approach to design, incorporating antiques, modern reproductions and more draperies, Germans have embarked on a design journey towards the contemporary. Antiques are used, but in more of a contemporary setting. I see very little influence of German design here in the States for example. I will exclude kitchen and bath design and all automobiles...since these is widely available all over the world.
To demonstrate it, I'll take you on a tour! Sit back and enjoy! Maybe a glass of German Riesling?

All images above from the Lambert collection.

Having early in the 20Th century started to move forward towards a modern and more reduced style in furniture design and architecture Germany has kept the rhythm of modernity going and today a very contemporary life- and living style prevails.

Art movements from Jugendstil to Art Deco had lasting influence on German design and vice versa.
Of course there is a large part of traditional furniture to be found, but the majority falls in two large groups: modern, restrained style, coming from the Bauhaus tradition and modern influences from Italy and a contemporary country style.

Walter Gropius

Marcel Breuer Lounge chair B3 1926 via Bauhaus Stiftung Dessau

Open any German decorating and design magazine and you will find a preference for clear forms, stark colors and the use of natural woods, metals and glass. The effect is cool and modern, yet charming. Scandinavian influences are visible and overall all is more on the lighter site when it comes to color!

The above Berlin apartment was designed by Berlin Rodeo. I found the images here.It represents in my opinion the very essence of German modern design.

Germany has had great and lasting movements of furniture design, starting with the reduced lines of Classicism, later Biedermeier, Bauhaus, Hellerau and the modern Classics.

Always a great attention to quality and details show the craftsmanship and love for the natural materials. All sorts of local woods, stone and metals are used.

Local influences are still visible, Bavaria has kept the traditions of folklore alive and today Munich is the center of it, filled with energizing juxtapositions of traditional and super modern!
Some modern homes found here.

And those beautiful fireplaces are from here.

As you can see, within Germany are differences in design style, but all are rooted in historical and local architectural and design develoment.
In Berlin the architecture from the turn of the 19Th to 20Th together with modern design of the 21Th century makes up the majority of buildings, apart from the dramatic temples of design, the great cathedrals and museums, universities, which mostly were build in the early 19Th century. Carl Friedrich Schinkel was one of the leading architects of that period, building mainly in a neoclassical style. The Alte Museum in Berlin is one of the finest examples.

Stilwerk is the Mecca of modern design in Berlin. It houses many of the leading international and German interior design firms.

Even though Germany had many architectual losses after WW II, it has rebuild much of the old and added incredible new design as well. The mixture overall in Germany is eclectic and very beautiful!
Former East Germany had to deal with a heritage of ugly accomodations for the masses, which resulted in entire cities build from cement blocks and today even this is slowly turning into more livable places.
It makes me happy to see how green the country feels, literally and figurativly speaking. Environmental concern and action can be felt everywhere, beginning from strict recycling laws to the wind and deep earth energy for homes and public places alike.

German design is indeed interesting, different and beautiful too.
I hope you've got a better idea of it now and a little feeling for it as well!
I will tell you a little more about decorative design in a coming post.


Pictures by Victoria Zlotkowski, Lambert collection,egoform, unopiu, team 7,Gravity swing chair by Stokke, Lino Goehring via trollhus (all at,, and and sources linked above.


  1. Great post and pictures! I have really grown to like the German style. I love the ceramic heaters so beautiful in person. I have to say in the German homes I have been in they use every space available and nice clean lines. And the colors are nice no one is afraid of colors here is refreshing.

  2. Great post! I can see a strong Scandinavian influence in the furniture.


  3. What wonderful style. Thanks for the fab post and the exciting trip.

  4. Schoen, dieser Eintrag! Ich wundere mich immer noch, warum Jugendstil und Bauhaus keinen groesseren Einfluss auf USA Architektur gehabt hat. NY ist eine Ausnahmen, denke ich. Die Kacheloefen sind sehr schoen, da bekomme ich wieder heimweh und dann noch das BMW Gebaeude in Muenchen.

  5. Ich habe eine alte Kommmode zuhause, die sieht genau aus, wie die Hellerau, kommt aber vom Flohmarkt. Ich muss sie mal näher in Augenschein nehmen ;-)

  6. Furniture from Hellerau Werkstaetten sind heute Klassiker und haben Wert!
    Ich erinnere mich, das meine Eltern ein gesamtes Set von Hellerau hatten.Oben gesehene Anrichte und zwei wunderschoene Buecherschraenke mit Glastueren.Alles zurueckgelassen, nachdem sie aus Dresden weggegangen sind.... Zu schade!
    Hellerau ist ja auch eine Siedlung, die in den fruehen 20igern gebildet wurde und einen neuen Wohngeist zeigt!
    Hellerau furniture are classics now and have quiet a value. My parents used to have a complete set and left it behind after their move away from Dresden. Such a pity!
    Hellerau was also known for its progressive style to build new reasonable prized housing. The Hellerau furniture manufactory is until today dedicated to immaculate craftsmanship and good design.

  7. Oh that curved corner with the bookcases tucked in is making me swoon! You've truly opened my eyes...I am such a fan of the scandinavian style but am now expanding my horizons to include Germany (I already adore their wine, it's a natural extension I suppose).

  8. What an informative post! I love the clean lines and white walls. For some reason, khaki has be come the preferred paint colour and white is so much brighter and livelier when you add accents. I think people believe modern means lots of colour with no white . White works so well with wood and pops with colour.

  9. Very interesting. My Grandfather was from Germany. Came here when he was in his teens and married my Irish Grandmother. Anyway.... So cool to get a peek at lifestyle and design in Germany. Would love to visit one day. I really like the dinning room with the pink chairs.


  10. My German roots loves the clean aesthetic of German design. My Grandmother was German, so practical, so full of energy and made the best black walnut cookies. I am so happy to learn more and see more wonderful images of Germany and the incredible design. We always see french and italian but so little German.

  11. wonderful examples of design in Germany. I like the contemporary approach and the subtle mix of the old and new. Have a happy weekend, xv.

  12. I definitely know what you are talking about. I feel like here it's either very old school or super modern. I like it though. I like a mix mostly, but some of what I see here is so different and 'cool' (for lack of a better word). I love all the lighting shops..there are no recessed lights here so all the pendants, chandies, etc. are so fun. Not too many table lamp selections here though...not used as much as in the States, huh? I'm sure Austria is still more traditional overall (than Germany) like they are in EVERYTHING! Great pics!

  13. thank you very much for this post! helped me a lot with my internship since we didn't learn this at school. :)


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