Most histories of 20th century design cite Peter Behrens's seminal influence on three of his former protégés - Gropius, Mies, and Le Corbusier - and mention the turbine factory and arc-lamp he designed for the German electric company, the AEG. Now the full story of the extraordinary collaboration between Peter Behrens and the AEG is disclosed in this extensive account of his industrial, graphic, and architectural designs. Illustrated with 600 halftones, 31 line drawings, and 53 four-color plates, and augmented by substantial essays, it is one of the most complete documentations of any designer's contribution to industry that has been assembled in the modern period.
During the years that Behrens worked as artistic director for the AEG, he exercised complete control over the company's image. The resulting "industriekultur" was expressed in everything from factory buildings and worker housing to electric appliances and railroad cars, from graphic communications like signage and trademarks to letterheads and mailing labels. Behrens's idea that. a company can promote its identity through a consistent design program had repercussions far beyond Germany. Many of today's corporate giants consider design an integral part of their management policies; in Behrens's time, it was still considered a bold and controversial experiment.
In addition to the vast array of visual material from the AEG's archives, the book contains essays by Tilmann Buddensieg, Henning Rogge, Fritz Neumeyer, Karin Wilhelm, Gabriele Heidecker, and Sabine Bohle on Behrens's relationship with the AEG's management, his predecessors and successors, the AEG's rise to dominance in the electric industry, and Behrens's design of exhibitions, graphics, and public utilities. There are also pieces by several of Behrens's contemporaries and a selection of Behrens's own writings appearing for the first time in English. A fully-illustrated appendix with biographical details of the AEG principals, and a comprehensive bibliography and index conclude this rich account.