Brandt’s tea infuser is the quintessential Bauhaus object. Its geometric and pure shapes are the expression of Functionalism. Only three inches high, its diminuitive size results exclusively from its function.
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Brandt’s tea sets use geometric forms and little ornamentation, incorporating ideas from movements such as Constructivism and De Stijl. The sets used material such as silver plate, brass and ebony for the handles. The reproduction rights to Brandt’s tea set were granted to Alessi, an Italian metalware design company, in 1985.
Designer: Marianne Brandt Manufacturer: Alessi
Production date: 1924
Materials: Silver and ebony
Dimensions: (8.3 × 10.8 × 16.5 cm)
Features and details
The teapot was one of several prototypes designed and made by Brandt, when she was a student, and later a teacher, in the Bauhaus metal workshop. She made the original prototype in 1924, her first year in the workshop, which was then run by the charismatic Hungarian constructivist László Moholy-Nagy.
The design was inspired by Moholy-Nagy’s constructivist style. You can spot similar geometric compositions in his collages. But Brandt also strove to ensure that the teapot’s form was directly related to its function: which was to become a fundamental principle of modern industrial design.
image source: https://www.markanto.de/tee-extraktkaennchen-mbek.html
While incorporating the usual elements of a teapot, the designer has reinvented them as abstract geometric forms. Unlike conventional teapots, it is intended to distill a concentrated extract, which, when combined with hot water in the cup, can produce tea of any desired strength.
The body is a hemisphere cradled on crossbars. The thin circular lid, placed off center to avoid drips (a common fault of metal teapots with hinged lids), had a tall cylindrical knop. The handle, a D-shaped slice of ebony set high for ease of pouring, provides a strong vertical contrast to the object’s predominant horizontality.
Although entirely handmade, this teapot has an industrial aesthetic, and Brandt subsequently went on to design for mass-production. The functionalism of this design is apparent in the neat built-in strainer, the non-drip spout, the off-centre placement of the lid, and the choice of heat-resistant ebony for the handles, which would otherwise be too hot to hold.