The three-piece modernist writing set in red-enamelled steel was designed by German-born Marianne Brandt (1893-1983), a noted Bauhaus-trained metalworker and designer. Acquired at an auction in New York, the set joins the Museum's chairs designed by Marcel Breuer and Ludwig van der Rohe as examples of 1930s modernist design associated with the Bauhaus. Bauhaus was a German design school which, through the work of its teachers and students, irrevocably influenced the course of 20th century design and architecture.
Perhaps best known for her innovative designs for adjustable metal lamps, Marianne Brandt was one of the Bauhaus' most talented students. She joined the metal workshop in 1924 and became deputy head of the workshop in 1928. Consistently with the schools' philosophical developments, her handcrafted metal tableware of the Weimar period (1919-1925) was superseded by simpler articles of elemental geometrical forms typical of the Dessau period (1925-33) which she designed as prototypes for mass production. In 1929 Brandt left Bauhaus to work in the architectural office of Walter Gropius in Berlin. Between 1930 and 1933, she worked as a designer for Ruppelwerk, a metalware manufacturer in Gotha. Responsible for the factory's extensive range of small household articles, she re-designed the entire range to give it a distnctive, modern appearance.
Brandt's designs proved highly successful on the market significantly increasing the firm's sales. Sold separately, the Museum's cylindrical inkwell, matching blotter and pen tray were produced in several colourways. Highly functional and visually striking, they featured in Ruppelwerk catalogues alongside such items as bookends, watering cans, napkin holders, ashtrays and cigarette boxes. All 'finely painted in modern colours' (Schleiflackfarben), Ruppelwerk's economic yet attractive 'novelties' were among the most successful early applications of Bauhaus concepts in industry.