People, History

Max Bill - the legendary Bauhaus Designer & Architect

Published: 03.05.2022

With the founding of the HfG Ulm, Max Bill, like no other, contributed to letting the Bauhaus idea live on. He filled the term "design" with life. From the Ulmer stool to the Junghans clock, Bill's designs are still considered innovative and timelessly beautiful.

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland

Max Bill was born on December 22, 1908 in Winterthur (Switzerland). From 1924 to 1927 he went to the Kunstgewerbeschule Zurich as a silversmith in the apprenticeship. When he was just 17 years old, Sophie Taeuber-Arp exhibited two of his student works in the legendary "Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs" in Paris. With the prize money, which he had recently won for a poster design for the chocolate manufacturer Suchard, he went to the Bauhaus in Dessau. Here he studied for two years with Albers, Kandinsky, Klee, Moholy-Nagy and Schlemmer - a formative and trend-setting time for the young Bill.

Multidisiplinary approach

In 1929, Bill returned to Switzerland and settled in Zurich. Here the versatile artist worked as an architect, painter, sculptor, publicist and product designer. In 1930 he joined the Swiss Werkbund. From 1933, the former Bauhausler made first sculptures and was included in the Paris artist group "abstraction création". Bill was just 25 years old. His membership enabled him to exhibit side by side with such greats as Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Georges Vantongerloo. In 1938, Bill joined the CIAM (Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne), whose members include ao. other well-known architects such as Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto and Le Corbusier.

Max Bill & Bauhaus

Best known, however, was Max Bill as a driving force in the founding and planning of the HfG Ulm (College of Design) and as the architect and first principal and also headed the Department of Architecture & Product. For the first lesson Bill had brought colleagues from his time at the Bauhaus to the school such as Johannes Itten and Helene Nonné-Schmidt who taught the students in makeshift premises. At the same time the construction of the university campus started according to his plans. Students and lecturers should live and work together - a concept that Gropius had already realized for the Bauhaus. In 1955 the facility was officially opened. The profession of the designer, as we know him today, was decisively influenced by the teaching at the HfG Ulm and by publications and lectures by Max Bill about design. Max Bill's most famous design pieces include the Ulmer Stool, designed by Bill in collaboration with the Dutch architect and designer Hans Gugelot at the HfG Ulm, and the formally simple dials of Junghans wristwatches, wall clocks and kitchen clocks - both are true design classics and we collect these for you.

Awards & Recongnition

Max Bill received numerous awards for his works and became a member of several artistic associations and juries. Max Bill was a restless, creative mind who sought to translate his ideas into international projects. Make sure to have a look at our collection where we put together several time pieces Bill designed and that we truly love.

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