The Deutscher Werkbund, was founded in 1907 in Munich as a response to widely held worries that Germany’s rapid industrialization and modernization was coming at the cost of its national culture. It brought together professors, craftsmen, industrialists, fine artists, politicians and designers. The groups main intellectual leaders were Hermann Muthesius and Henry van de Velde. The movement was greatly influenced by William Morris’ Arts and Crafts movement which proposed that industrial crafts be revived as a combined effort between both designers and craftsmen. The werkbund was primarily interested in the link between the artistic and the economic aspects of mass production.
The Werkbund were against revivalism and believed that architecture should be a representation of the spirit of the age or zeitgeist. Design should reflect the culture and way of life at that particular time in that particular place. Industrial development was very much the spirit of Germany at this point and this was reflected in the works of the Werkbund. With this in mind the German Werkbund set out to produce architecture that utilized mass production but still made use of craftsmanship. Handicraft and art was still to be used but in a way that complimented the spirit of Modern Germany. The founders of the Werkbund set out to prove that through cooperation between the applied arts and industry a national style in tune with the modern age could be developed.
The Werkbund saw the potential of mass production and wanted German designers to take advantage of it. It was believed that mechanized production was incompatible with ornamentation and that products should be simplified down to their basic forms. To attempt to introduce their ideas the Werkbund implemented a program of certification for products. This served to pressure retailers and manufacturers into adhering to the ideas of the Deutscher Werkbund.
Soon after the Werkbund was established it was split into two different factions expressing different views. The first was led by Muthesius and championed the greatest possible use of standardization and mechanical mass production. Van de Velde headed the other faction and maintained the notions of individual artistic expression. Muthesius’ ideas were accepted by the Werkbund in 1914.