Authors
07/05/18

Unwittingly, Standard of a Philosophy

The ambitious plan kept going, slow but incessant. The construction of the educational complex had begun in Kuhberg, a hill within Baden-Württemberg, just as he had devised. A complete campus, with its classrooms, its workshops, its library, the student residence, the homes of the professors, the offices of the heads of departments, even a cafeteria.
The Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm had been designed in 1950 under criteria of functionality and austerity because its architect, Swiss designer Max Bill, had been trained at the Bauhaus in Dessau. In April 1953, he was appointed director of the school and head of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, as he had hoped and longed for since he had actively participated in the preparation of the curriculum and in the selection of international teachers. In August of that same year the classes began, but in an old building. The construction was not finished yet.

 

andreu_world-chairpedia_ulmer_hocker 

 

 

Despite the intention to establish itself as a private school, unlike the Bauhaus, the HfG depended on the subsidies granted annually by the German High Commissioner and the public money of Baden-Würtemberg and the municipality of Ulm. Due to these economic limitations, it was necessary to think urgently about how to furnish the interiors of the provisional school and the homes of students and teachers. Max Bill thought of Hans Gugelot, an architect and furniture designer who would go on to head the Product Design Department. The solution: to make their own seats in the wooden workshops with some boards that had been donated and thanks to the hands of master carpenter Paul Hildinger.
The result was the first tangible product that emerged from that school: a chair without backrest - or stool - whose structure was based on a small, light and simple cuboid. It was a modest piece of furniture, made up of three fir wood boards joined by a dovetail assembly. They maintained their stability thanks to a beech bar with a circular section braced on the bottom that also served as a footrest. The ingenious invention worked and as many as a hundred copies were made.
It was the ubiquitous piece in the cafeteria, in the classrooms, in the courtyard. Even in the rooms of the students. Its transportation was dynamic, from one conference room to another. You just had to grab it by the crossbar. In addition, it was versatile: it could function as a seat, as an auxiliary table, bookshelf, lectern... Finally, the school officially opened on the new campus in October 1955. By then the facilities were already equipped with this democratic furniture, as it was for everyone - students and teachers - the standard of an ethical and aesthetic philosophy.

 
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