‘This blanket captures the essence of my mother’s design. It will add warmth to the studios in the Bauhaus and make the historic photograph of the Prellerhaus dormitory come alive again.’ Monika Stadler, Gunta Stölzl’s daughter
This summer, as part of the Bauhaus centenary celebrations, designers Wallace Sewell have been commissioned to recreate an original design by Bauhaus weaver Gunta Stölzl. The Prellerhaus blanket was made in 1926 at the weaving workshops in Dessau. The original design having been lost, Wallace Sewell have realized and recreated the design with help from Gunta Stölzl’s daughter, Monika Stadler, and archive drawings and photographs.
Gunta Stölzl was fundamental to the Bauhaus weaving department and when the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, Stölzl, who was a master of the weaving workshop, designed a blanket for the ‘Prellerhaus’ student dormitories, the so-called ‘Prellerdecke’. (‘Preller’ after painter Friedrich Preller and ‘decke’ meaning bedcover). The original is a bold interaction of horizontal and vertical, positive and negative. More than a 100 pieces were woven by hand in the weaving workshop, but the last original blanket was lost after an exhibition in the USA.
Wallace Sewell started the process of recreation by looking back to a version woven for an exhibition in 1996, assuming that this had been copied from the original. However once work began, it came to light that this example was not intended to be an exact replica of the original; it was more complex.
Gunta’s style of designing, which was pared down and rigorous, convinced Wallace Sewell that the original design must have been uncomplicated, in order for students to produce multiples by hand, in the Bauhaus weaving workshop. So instead, they decided to continue the detective work by analysing an existing photograph of the original blanket.
Sketches and colour swatches were followed by more detailed design development undertaken by hand on small looms in the Wallace Sewell studio, before weaving full-scale pieces at a mill in Lancashire. After weaving the fabric was ‘scoured’ (washed), ‘milled’ (controlled felting) and then ‘cropped’ (shaved), at a finishers in Yorkshire, before travelling back to the mill in Lancashire, where the fabric was processed by hand into finished blankets.
The Wallace Sewell Prellerhaus blanket harks back to the original as closely as possible, picking up on the rhythm and simplicity of Gunta’s design, but certain aspects have been updated. The original was probably in rayon, as the Bauhaus championed innovation, including synthetic fibres, which were very popular in the 1920s and 30s. This was confirmed when Wallace Sewell met with Gunta’s daughter Monika Stadler and looked through rare archival hand woven samples, drawings, swatches and photographs, to better understand her design processes. Wallace Sewell decided to update the design to weave in wool, as a more desirable and sustainable fibre for today. Wallace Sewell have also created two new colour ways. Here they have kept the tonal balance and design that is essentially Bauhaus whilst updating to a more contemporary palette.
When the Bauhaus Dessau buildings re open in September, a recreation of the Gunta Stölzl’s Prellerhaus blanket, designed by Wallace Sewell, will be found at the Bauhaus Dessau once more.
The Bauhaus Prellerhaus blanket will be available at Wallace Sewell shop (or via the website www.wallacesewell.com) It will also be available at the Designshop Bauhaus Dessau, the Tate Edit shop, the Guggenheim shop (NY), the Cooper Hewitt shop (NY).
There are three colour ways: Fallow (the original), Orchard and Seal. The design will also be available in the Orchard and Seal colour ways as cushions, scarves and bags.