Among the best-known products developed at the Bauhaus, the famed German school of modern art, architecture, and design, this teapot was a student work designed by Brandt soon after she joined the metal workshop there. The artist László Moholy-Nagy, who had taken over as the workshop’s form master in 1923, encouraged her to enter this male-dominated field at a time when virtually all female students in the school were relegated to textiles. An accomplished exercise in reducing an everyday object to a combination of elemental shapes, the teapot uses pure geometric forms inspired by the Constructivist aesthetic that Moholy-Nagy had introduced into the workshop. Its design is innovative yet functional, and it bears an ebony handle and finial that are comfortable to hold.
Although hand-forged from nickel silver, the teapot was among Brandt’s first attempts to develop pieces for industrial production. She later wrote that “the task was to shape these things in such a way that even if they were to be produced in numbers, making the work lighter, they would satisfy all aesthetic and practical criteria and still be far less expensive than any singly produced item.” The teapot remained a prototype, but some of her subsequent metalwork designs, especially for lighting, went into mass production. Brandt left the Bauhaus in 1929 when the metal workshop merged with other departments and ceased to be a vital area in the school.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)