ritterwerk and Bauhaus tradition

ritterwerk, with a history dating back more than 100 years, is also a contemporary of the Bauhaus movement, which has its origins in the Bauhaus school of art and design existing in Germany between 1919 and 1933. The Bauhaus was the twentieth century's most influential school and workshop of design.

Walter Gropius (1883-1969), architect and founding father of the Bauhaus movement, was the voice of a new generation who felt disillusioned by the failure of their parents' politics and culture. They rejected the ideals, ways of life, and styles of the previous generation. This thirst for change sought expression in minimalist forms that were in harmony with function, in stripped-back, clean spaces and objects, and in efforts to create a new, objective form of unity.

In the mid-1920s, Walter Gropius stated that the aim of the Bauhaus was to contribute to the “development of the domestic environment” – from the simple household utensil to the completed dwelling – in conformity with the spirit of the times. Over the course of the 1920s, the ideas of the Bauhaus, which had originally been largely applied to art and craftwork, became increasingly intertwined with the opportunities and challenges presented by advances in technology. The desire was for a cross-pollination of the ideas and expertise that existed in the scientific and creative communities to produce useful products that met the requirements of the day.In a more or less radical fashion, the Bauhaus masters made form and colour subordinate to functionality and choice of materials. Their motto was “form follows function”. The concept of form following function is brought to life in the “Haus am Horn” and the Masters' Houses in Weimar. The kitchens, in particular, are functional and modern. They have clean lines and a practical layout, with generous workspaces and dust-proof storage in drawers and fitted cupboards. They were revolutionary for their time. The concept of the fitted kitchen replaced previous kitchen designs, which consisted of a series of separate elements, such as an expansive hearth or cooking area, open shelves that stored kitchen utensils and acted as dust magnets or, at best, a bourgeois dresser or crockery cabinet. Bauhaus kitchens integrated these individual components into a modern, functional whole.

 

 

Design is always embedded in the socio-cultural, economic and technical context of its time. This makes it all the more interesting that the vision of the avant-garde Bauhaus designers continued to be of relevance throughout the decades that followed its closure and still resonates today. And this survival is even more impressive in light of the diversity of the Bauhaus ideas and products that were developed over this 14-year period by a no less diverse group of leading figures. This diversity makes it impossible to describe the "typical" Bauhaus style. So, what exactly is it that has survived until now? What is the common thread running through all Bauhaus products and ideas, and also lives on at ritterwerk?

 

ritterwerk and the Bauhaus tradition

The company was already established when the Bauhaus began its work. In the 1930s, ritterwerk began producing its slicing machines. From 1967 to 2005, this activity was performed under the direction of designer Karl Dittert (*1915), who follows directly in the tradition of the Bauhaus. Karl Dittert studied under Hans Warnecke (1900-1988), who, in 1921, joined Walter Gropius as a member of the "Deutscher Werkbund" (German Association of Craftsmen), founded in 1907. As Head of the Bauhaus school, Walter Gropius exerted a dominant influence on this association throughout the 1920s. Hans Warnecke not only enjoyed a healthy exchange of ideas with various Bauhaus pioneers, but also openly adopted some of their ideas in his work and his teaching. The design of the ritterwerk appliances created by Karl Dittert follow the principle of prioritising functionality and choice of materials. With our built-in kitchen appliances, ritterwerk strives to optimise practical kitchen design in the spirit of the Bauhaus.

ritterwerk appliances belong in the kitchen and are, as our motto says, “… at home in any kitchen”. They also add to the quality of everyday domestic life, and help their owners feel more “at home” in the kitchen too. Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), a renowned American architect and a contemporary of the early Bauhaus figures, described the connection between the individual architect and the buildings they create in an almost philosophical way – “As you are, so are your buildings” (1924). In an essay on architecture, Sullivan also coined the phrase “form follows function”, which became the mantra of the Bauhaus pioneers.

ritterwerk is truly a child of its time and carries the Bauhaus “gene”. When we created our contura3 multi slicer in 2008, it set new design standards in all aspects of functionality. With its minimalist use of materials and emphasis on the geometric shapes of the square, triangle and circle, the appliance achieves a new level of simplicity and recalls the forms that appear in the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky.

It was followed in 2010 by the volcano, which is probably the most streamlined toaster in the world. This free-standing toaster is a design piece that transforms the kitchen from a purely functional place to cook into a sophisticated modern living space. The toaster's dimensions were ultimately determined by the need to offer this product as a built-in appliance to fit in a drawer. “Form follows function” is a touchstone of the Bauhaus, and the form of this toaster is slim and flat with a reflective surface made of glass or aluminium that adds lightness and subtlety. Pure, functional, timeless and beautiful.

Our fontana5 kettle follows in the same footsteps, both in terms of its name and of its features, which are typical of ritterwerk's Lifestyle products, made in Germany. The kettle remains true to the simple, pure, clean and timeless Bauhaus style in both form and colour.

The cafena5 coffee machine follows the same principles. Reduction to the essential, high-quality materials and manufacture in Germany. Thanks to the modern and yet timeless design of the filter coffee machine, the preparation of coffee is a pleasure for all the senses.

As always, ritterwerk is committed to ensuring that our high-quality products achieve perfection in terms of function and material. For ritterwerk, the focus is on durability, not disposability. Today, at our own workshop here in Gröbenzell near Munich, we offer the same repair and replacement service to customers that we have offered for decades.

Looking to the future, we plan to launch more products that follow in the Bauhaus tradition, while also keeping pace with today's market requirements and the latest technological advances. In other words, products resulting from a perfect combination of the spirit of this age and elements of Bauhaus design.