Design icon: Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Lighting Series
One of the most distinctive sets of designs to emerge from the Bauhaus members, the Kaiser Idell lighting series embodies the craftsmanship, rationality and functionality that characterised the design school.
Challenging convention, fighting prejudice in Nazi Germany and forging a whole new approach to design - the Bauhaus school achieved an amazing amount in the 14 years it was open, with its students and teachers going on to become some of the biggest names in 20th Century design.
In the year the Bauhaus turns 100, we reveal the history behind one of the schools’ most distinctive designs. Join us to discover the story.
A design school like no other
The Bauhaus school was founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius in Weimar, the then capital of post-WW1 Germany. In an era of upheaval within German society, the Bauhaus school sought to explore new ideas, creating a completely new design vocabulary that would marry together craftsmanship and the industrial manufacturing processes.
With an exquisite choice of materials, precise engineering and handcrafted details, the Bauhaus gave us many iconic designs including Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Lounge Chair, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair and of course the Kaiser Idell series from Christian Dell.
The man behind the lights
Although not as well-known as some of the other names to be associated with the Bauhaus, Christian Dell was a leading voice within the school. Alongside Mies van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Marianne Brandt and Marcel Breuer - Christian Dell was a foreman at the metal workshop of the Bauhaus school from 1922 to 1925. A silversmith by trade, Dell was instrumental in forming the Bauhaus’ metalworking culture.
After the closure of the Weimar Bauhaus school by the Nazi party, Dell had a decade of more mixed-fortunes. He was appointed as the director of the metalworking course at the Frankfurt School of Art before again being dismissed by the Nazi party in the early 1930s.
Dell then declined a job offer from his former colleague Walter Gropius who was based in the USA to remain in Germany and pursue his lighting designs. This turned out to be a stroke of luck for Dell - his lighting designs beginning to take off in the mid-1930s with the release of the Kaiser Idell series.
After the end of WW2, Dell made a return to silversmithing, opening his own jeweller’s shop in Wiesbaden in 1948, which he ran until his retirement in 1955.
Functional & flexible - a thoroughly Bauhaus design
First premiered in 1931, the Kaiser Idell Lighting Series is Dell’s most well-known set of designs. Originally released by the German lamp company, Gebr. Kaiser & Co, this lighting collection quickly became popular for its bold, curved aesthetic.
Embodying the Bauhaus ideas of functionality and flexibility - this iconic lighting series is all about being suited to the job at hand. From the Kaiser Idell 6631-T Luxus Table Lamp with its world-patented swivel joint to the Kaiser Idell 6718-W Scissor Lamp with its pioneering scissor arm – Dell designed his lamps to be easily adjusted, directing their light wherever the user needed it most.
The Kaiser Idell name is a reflection of the collection’s original manufacturer, Gebr. Kaiser & Co and is also a play on words between the word ‘idea’ and Christian Dell’s surname.
After acquiring the rights to produce the design in 2010, Fritz Hansen now makes and sells Christian Dell’s designs. Lovingly reproduced by the Danish brand, each Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Lamp is embossed with the words ‘ORIGINAL KAISER-idell’ on their characteristic domed shades, as a mark of authenticity.
A Bauhaus anniversary edition
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, Fritz Hansen have released the Kaiser Idell Luxus in a special edition brass and matt black finish. A bold pairing of reflective warmth and cool darkness, the untreated brass stem will gain a unique, natural patina over time - reflecting each piece’s unique place in design history. A true collector’s piece – get yours at Nest today.
Want to discover more about the Kaiser Idell Lighting Series? Visit our designer page for the full range of lights and colours available and to find out more information about the products. To talk to one of the Nest team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0114 243 3000 or send us a message on Live Chat.