Wallpaper Design

Elsa Thiemann, 1930–1931

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Margot Schmidt
Wallpaper design, author: Elsa Thiemann, 1930–1931

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In 1929, Hannes Meyer announced a competition open to all students and masters to produce designs for a new Bauhaus wallpaper collection. A total of 14 patterns with five to fifteen colour variants were produced by the Gebrüder Rasch wallpaper company for the 1930 season. The production range only included bright, friendly shades with detailed line and dot patterns, corresponding to the clear, plain aesthetic predominating at the Bauhaus.

The wallpaper designs produced by Bauhaus member Elsa Thiemann (née Franke) were surprisingly dark, heavy and ornamental by contrast. Her collaged photograms, which she sometimes supplemented with white paint so that the pattern repeat would always connect up, producing a large-scale pattern when it was placed on a wall, clearly turned against the minimalism of her fellow students and teachers. For most of her designs, the young photographer used parts of plants such as flowers and stems, which spread out in tendrils and ornaments.

It is therefore not surprising that Thiemann’s wallpaper designs were not included in the Bauhaus collection; however, they did broadly suit the taste of many of her contemporaries, for whom the Bauhaus’s clear lines were too bare. This is evident from the fact that the Rasch company already initiated a line by designer Maria May in 1933 to provide a ‘feminine’ counterpart for the Bauhaus wallpapers, using an approach similar to Thiemann’s, with parts of plants printed over Bauhaus wallpapers.

[AG 2015]

  1. Literature:
  2. Guttenberger, Anja (2012): Tapete für innen und außen, in: bauhaus 4, Dessau, S. 83–92.
  3. Tapetenfabrik Gebr. Rasch & Co. und Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (1995): Reklame & Erfolg einer Marke, Köln.
  4. Wolsdorff, Christian (2004): Tapeten-Entwürfe, in: Annemarie Jaeggi & Margot Schmidt (Hrsg.): Elsa Thiemann. Fotografin. Bauhaus und Berlin, Berlin, S. 18–22.
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