Frankfurt am Main is particularly well known in Europe for its outstanding architecture. But Frankfurt also has its own distinct profile in design disciplines, such as graphic and product design. Since the beginning of the 20th century, companies, such as Adler, which worked with Walter Gropius and is famous for its stylistic designs for cars and typewriters, or the Bauer Type Foundry, which developed the iconic Futura font, have established the city as a mecca of design. In the second half of the last century, it was above all Braun that advocated an innovative design philosophy for its electrical appliances, which to this day are characterized by their timeless design and intuitive usability.
Dieter Rams is the mastermind behind legendary designs such as the LE1 electrostatic mode loudspeaker, the Regie and Atelier hi-fi systems and the ET 66 calculator, which he designed together with Dietrich Lubs. Many of his works have won awards, and several of his devices are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s permanent collection. Dieter Rams is famous for modifying the Mies van der Rohe quote “Less is more” to “Less but better,” which became one of Dieter Rams’ defining statements. So, it’s no wonder that Apple founder Steve Jobs was among the most fervent fans of Dieter Rams’ design language. Frankfurt’s Museum Angewandte Kunst has created a style room in honor of the Wiesbaden-based industrial designer, in which his furniture designs, such as the legendary Universal Shelving System 606, can be admired.
Even today, furniture designers are still a major driving force behind Frankfurt’s preeminent reputation for design. The manufacturer e15, whose furniture graces the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg and the offices of star architect David Chipperfield, is at the forefront. You can also experience the progressive design ideas of e15 firsthand in Frankfurt restaurants, such as Stanley Diamond. And the classics designed by company founder Philipp Mainzer in the mid-1990s, such as the BIGFOOT™ table and the BACKENZAHN™ stool, are still sold worldwide.
Many of the latest generation of Frankfurt’s designers studied at the University of Art and Design in neighboring Offenbach. One of their leading lights is Sebastian Herkner, who has already won two Wallpaper design awards and is still in his mid-30s. The Bell Table for ClassiCon is one of his best-known designs. Herkner also designs for international companies, such as Moroso, Fontana Arte and Rosenthal.
But it is not only the big names that make Frankfurt a design metropolis. Shops and labels are also found all over the city – such as Frank Landau with his collection of rare furniture or fresh shoe designs by Lika Mimika. Frankfurters’ sharp eye for style ensures that creative design is always in high demand. In Frankfurt, you’ll experience it every day – in numerous superbly designed bars, cafés and restaurants.
pictures and picture credits:
previous picture: Dieter Rams Stilraum © Anja Jahn // Museum für angewandte Kunst
picture below and title picture: table BIGFOOT™ and chair BACKENZAHN™ © e15