Monday, March 04, 2013

Carpet Design by Bruno Mauder

Illustration: Bruno Mauder. Carpet design, 1903.

Another chance today to see the work of a designer working outside his chosen field of exploration. The German designer Bruno Mauder originally trained as a glass and porcelain painter. However, he did, as many of his contemporaries in the early twentieth century, produce work in other disciplines, including carpet design. 

The carpet design shown in the illustrations to this article, was produced by him in 1903. It is an interesting design, not only as far as carpet design during the early twentieth century is concerned, but also on a more personal level as it showed the influences that perhaps Mauder brought from other disciplines to that of carpet design.

Although the early years of the twentieth century were not entirely devoid of simple geometrically inspired carpet design work, it was more usual to use the genre of the floral, of which there were many traditional as well as innovational examples. However, this early example by Mauder did show the way that the decorative arts world was moving, particularly in Germany, where geometrically inspired work could on the one hand be artistically derived through an individual and contained decorative format, while on the other expressing itself in strict repetitive motifs that were deliberately connected to the repetitive world of the industrial process. 

Although Germany derived inspiration and was influenced be certain aspects of the English Arts and Crafts movement, particularly the ideal of honesty to materials and function, it parted ways with the English over such fundamental details as the linking of production to the machine. Whilst not all English designers associated, however loosely, with the Arts and Crafts movement, saw the machine as an anathema, the majority did, which to some extent meant that many talented creative individuals in England spent their time in the Cotswolds, rather than trying to reform design within the industrial process. It took until the 1930s for Britain to understand the importance of the designer within the mass manufacturing process, and by that time it was far too late, as Germany, the United States and other industrial countries and regions had integrated design and designers to such an extent within industry, that the British contribution looked clumsy and miss-directed by comparison.

Illustration: Bruno Mauder. Quarter detail of carpet design, 1903.

To return to Mauder and his carpet design, understanding that he had a creative history that contained aspects of the glass discipline, as well as that of porcelain decoration, it perhaps can be seen that this carpet design in particular has elements of those disciplines. The design does have a translucent quality to it and it would not be too far to imagine the border design in particular being used for the decoration of ceramics. 

It is a beautifully coloured and proportioned example of carpet design, one that would have a harmonious and quieting effect within an interior setting. It is difficult to know how many examples of design and decorative work that Mauder produced in other disciplines, or even if there are other examples of carpet design than the one shown here. He did work within education for much of his career, although his glasswork can be found across Europe in a number of collections.

The full carpet design at the top of the page has been put together by me in photoshop from the quarter example shown further down. While nearly complete, it should be noted that the middle of the vertical and the middle of the horizontal points don't quite meet up. This is particularly noticeable at the decorative border. However, despite this I thought that it would still give a more complete idea of what the carpet would have originally looked like if had ever been produced. I am not certain if it ever was, and could well have been a design project or example by Mauder, completed just a couple of years after he had left college when he was about 26.


Connie Lee said...

It is an exceptional design.

Hels said...

I agree that many talented artists and craftsmen in the early twentieth century produced work in a range of decorative art disciplines.

Do we know if there was any connection between Mauder's vision in glass and porcelain on one hand, and carpet design on the other? Were his colours muted and his patterns geometric in all media? Or did he decorate the small objects boldly and brightly, and stay less flashy in the bigger item i.e carpets.

pansypoo said...

if not for the dental/medical era, turn of the century design would have been a great era to go back to. WHY can't we look back for rug designs??? or forward. get out of aubusson.

John hopper said...

If you take a look at some of the glass and ceramic work that Mauder produced, check using a google image search. Although bold, he was definitely not a Clarice Cliff, his work tended more towards what I would like to call 'refined graphic', with simple, often singular or at least limited colour tones.

I think that although a designer might well approach a discipline outside of their own, with some ideas of what is expected in that discipline, I still think that they intrinsically take along their own personal style and understanding with them. Therefore, Mauder would very probably have used his own sense of design descipline, rather than being swayed so much by the discipline itself. I know that's the way I would approach a new discipline, learn the basics, but take your core values along with you.