Designer Dieter Waeckerlin

Both form and function

B40 teak sideboard Waeckerlin Behr Germany modern 50s
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Above: Model B40 teak sideboard produced by Behr of Germany in 1958. Photo: Adore Modern

Born in Switzerland architect and designer Dieter Waeckerlin is best known for his strikingly spare – yet elegant – pieces. Waeckerlin’s designs are the essence of functional minimalism with many of his works featuring beautifully figured woods. What may seem to some a stark piece of furniture is in fact a celebration of the material with nothing frivolous interfering with the joys of teak, rosewood, or even the steel of a Dieter Waeckerlin design.

Waeckerlin began designing furniture in the mid 1950’s in his native Switzerland. By the late 50’s he was commissioned by Behr of Germany to design a line of multi- functional pieces that could be used in the office, in the home, or in any room. It is these well-made works for Behr that Waeckerlin is perhaps best known. The Behr pieces, particularly the sideboards, are striking and commanding objects that invite closer inspection. Some pieces are so spare that they often lack basic elements like handles on the doors and drawers and utilize instead delicate recesses and hidden hinges. This strict adherence to simplicity retained the purity of the clean line and simple form. Opening a Waeckerlin-designed cabinet or sideboard reveals the simplest of woods often lined in pale birch or maple with many featuring modular, removable shelving and storage with a keen focus on function.

As said before, minimalism is like a need. We need food, water, shelter and all else, in can be said, are merely frivolous wants. But all needs must be met. Minimalism does away with frivolity and leaves nothing but what is needed and while followers of the Minimalist manifest put function before form, the works of Dieter Waeckerlin beautifully demonstrate than form and function can be equally – and successfully – stressed.

Some of Dieter Waeckerlin for Behr of Germany and Idealheim of Switzerland, 1950's and 1960's. Click on image for full view.


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