Handmade in Germany

04 Jan 2016
4 min read
Designer Magnus Mewes creates furniture that is steeped in history and craftsmanship. The timeless designs for shapely stools, chairs and tables are carved from barrique barrels, which can be from up to 200-year old oak. With his upcoming world tour about to kick off, FOUR found out a little bit more about these masterpieces…

Mewes works with sustainable materials, manufactured with the highest craftsman’s skills. Only selected barrique barrels are used, which after several years of use no longer.

With the exhibition curated by Pascal Johanssen and Katja Kleiss of the Direktorenhaus Berlin, the mythos of Germany’s quality work is on tour. The selection of contemporary high-quality products from Germany displays masterworks from 150 German manufactories, artisans and designers, hand-made precious objects and cultural assets manufactured in Germany. Starting in St. Petersburg, the collection will be hosted by, among other places, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Abu Dhabi.


Germany has many outstanding manufactories that produce at the very highest level. The reason for this is the historical tradition of German craftsmanship. The training – from apprentice to journeyman to master – is unique in the world; its purpose is to achieve a broad access to traditional knowledge as well as a great depth in the field, which makes handicrafts one of the most innovative sectors of the national economy. The “Handmade in Germany” exhibition shows that German handicrafts are to this day influenced by the spirit of artistic movements such as the Werkbund and the Bauhaus and are one of the most important elements of Germany’s cultural heritage. “Handmade in Germany” is a journey through the objects and people of modern and traditional Germany. The exhibitors include world-renowned luxury brands, manufactories, individual designers and award-winning art studios. It is precisely this mix of small and large, well-known and undiscovered manufacturers, which makes the exhibition so appealing.

Cultural Significance

The exhibition is an impressive illustration of the diversity of the German cultural tradition and its current adaptation to and development within worldwide processes. It shows the whole scope of knowledge and creativity of craft-driven quality production, the products of which are not only commodities, but also bearers of identities and values. The exclusive spectrum of the exhibition encompasses exhibits that were on display at leading German museums and belong to State and private collections. The diversity of the show ranges from innovative, one-of-a-kind designs, developed by renowned and award-winning German artists, to unique, individually hand-crafted pieces, to samples of Germany’s new, sophisticated gastronomic culture.

Aesthetic Education

The sense of beauty fulfils an evolutionary function for mankind. Contemplation of the beautiful inspires the individual to strive for something higher. In a time of mass consumption that tends toward the convergence and standardisation of human life, we also become less competent to perceive the material world around us in a differentiated way, with all its varied forms and shapes, materials and substances, functions and customs. The “Handmade in Germany” exhibition seeks to raise awareness of the need for a distinct aesthetic education, in the sense of a conscious perception of the world of objects that surrounds us. At the same time, the exhibition aims to promote consciousness of quality, through an eye trained to see detail and through the cultivation of interest.


Manufactories are a model for sustainable economies: Their production radius, the durability of their products, and a mode of production that conserves natural resources make manufactories a prototype for sustainable economies:

The “Handmade in Germany” exhibition sets out to show that it is notably small and medium-sized manufactories, in light of global change and progressive standardisation, digitisation and dematerialisation, which offer an ideal alternative to current economic and business models. Manufactories are especially characterised by their close and personal customer relationships, manageable business structures, local and regional supply as well as ecological responsibility. Thus, manufactories assume an important social function.

Promotion of Young People

The exhibition seeks to give new impetus to the promotion of young people, notably in the specialised handicraft professions. School leavers and apprentices should be inspired by the “Handmade in Germany” exhibition and recognise what personal opportunities they might encounter from a profession in one of the handicraft industries and trades that are presented in the exhibition. With respect to quality production, manufactories emphasize the quality of work and perfecting one’s own skills – values which, in addition to one’s interest in the content of the particular profession, also foster personal fulfilment and self-confidence. The exhibition seeks not only to inspire graduates in Germany, but also to offer young people along the international stops of the tour the chance to make contact with renowned companies and manufactories and to learn through personal dialogues about possible career paths.


The exhibition is a chance to promote a professional, cross-industry exchange of experiences. Intensive networking and cooperation can take place at the exhibition and at parallel events, between German and international manufacturing producers, designers, agents and researchers. The exhibition offers the opportunity for people to get to know the culture of the partner country, and while discovering certain topics, crafts or arts, to have a lively exchange of views. Also to this end, the exhibition brings together designers and design networks, helps strengthening the intercultural communication and management capacities of distributors and creates bonds to local institutions of the host country.

The touring exhibition was initiated and is being conducted by the foundation Stiftung Direktorenhaus, under the direction of curators Pascal Johanssen and Katja Kleiss. The Direktorenhaus, located in the centre of Berlin, is devoted to exhibitions of contemporary applied arts. Selections from the multi-faceted collection of contemporary international designers and artisans can be seen in regular presentations.

Find out more about Magnus and Handmade in Germany here…