König was born in Leipzig and studied chemistry and political sciences in Göttingen, Dresden and Kiel. Following a brief period of employment at the Foreign Office in Brussels during the First World War, in 1920 he obtained a doctorate in political sciences. From 1920 to 1925 he directed the affairs of the Chemische Fabrik Dessau GmbH.
Friendly with Walter Gropius and Lyonel Feininger following his frequent visits to the Bauhaus week in Weimar in 1923, König was one of the group of supporters backing the mayor Fritz Hesse in his endeavours to persuade the city of Dessau to provide a home for the Bauhaus.
In ‘Architekturbedarf’ – the technical special department of the gallery Neue Kunst Fides – he not only represented the Bauhaus but also, until around 1930, the Staatliches Bauhochschule Weimar headed by Otto Bartning. There, according to the advertisements in the ‘bauhaus’ magazine, he placed himself ‘at the service of modern architects and builders, for whom it holds a rigorous selection of the best technically sophisticated products for architectural exteriors and interiors.’
For the serial production of 300 Wagenfeld table lamps, for example, he obtained the crystal glass foot plate and tubular glass shaft from the Jenaer Glaswerken Schott & Gen., the metal parts from the company Wagner & Wagner in Schleiz, the opal glass globe from the company Putzler und Penzig and then had the lamp fabricated in an assembly plant in Dresden.
Heinrich König’s most outstanding achievements in the design world transpired in the wake of the Second World War: He co-founded the Deutsche Werkbund with Will Grohman and Stephan Hirzel in 1945, organised its first exhibition ‘Neues Wohnen’ in Cologne in 1949 and directed its affairs in Baden-Württemberg from 1947 to 1964. As co-founder of the German Design Council from 1950, member of the working committee for ‘Good toys’, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, most notably, author of numerous publications on international design and postwar architecture, he made a name for himself as an advocate functionalism. [AB]
Magdalena Droste (1997), Die Bauhaus-Leuchte von Carl Jacob Jucker und Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Frankfurt am Main.
Gerd Fleischmann (1984): Bauhaus. Drucksachen, Typografie, Reklame, Düsseldorf.
Fritz Hesse (1963): Erinnerungen an Dessau, I, Bad Pyrmont/München.
Beate Manske: Zwei Lampen sind nie gleich. Wilhelm Wagenfeld in der Metallwerkstatt des Staatlichen Bauhauses Weimar, in: Klaus Weber (1992): Die Metallwerkstatt am Bauhaus, Berlin.
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