Kandem - Klassic, Kontemporary & Kool!
Kandem - Klassic, Kontemporary & Kool!
From the start of Blom & Blom, we have been fascinated by Kandem lights because of their simple and functional designs. These designs were generated by Kandem’s collaboration with the Bauhaus school of design starting in 1928, and are striking examples of the leading Bauhaus design principle - Form follows function. The lighting designs produced during Kandem's alliance with the Bauhaus school continue today as modern classics you’ve probably seen - but don’t know by name.
We decided to take a closer look at the history of Kandem and their exciting partnership with Bauhaus that opened up a worldwide market for both and helped to usher in the first generation of living with electricity, in style. Here’s what we found out...
The Leipzig lamp manufacturer Kandem (short for Körting & Mathiesen) was founded in 1889. Both Max Körting (1862-1948) and Wilhelm Mathiesen (1859-1936) were highly trained and experienced mechanics who met while working for a company in Leipzig. Realizing how much they had in common, they decided to seek their professional futures together. Full of confidence, Max and Wilhelm ventured out to start a business of their own in a whole new field of technology at the time: electrical engineering!
Their original idea was to develop and sell a new type of arc lamp. Max Körting’s mother provided all the capital she had available to help get them started, but it was not enough to get their arc lamp into production. So, ingenious and relentless - as engineers often are - the two entrepreneurs decided to produce electrical articles and appliances to generate income including switches, doorbells and lighting rods, crafted by hand in a workshop they rented on the Inselstrasse in Leipzig.
When their arc lamp finally reached full production, their business grew so rapidly that they needed more space to meet the demand. They bought a property just outside of Leipzig in Leutsch, where they moved in 1893. At the Leutzsch plant, industrial production began in full, with hand craftsmanship gradually being replaced by machines. Leutzsch remained Kamdem’s home for more than fifty years.
Fun fact: The name ‘Kandem’ evolved from “K und M” in German as an abbreviation for their name ‘Körting & Mathiesen’ - as they were originally known in the trade.
At the new Leutzsch factory, laboratories were installed to support the intensive R & D that drove Kandem. Both Körting and Mathiesen were specialists in lighting technologies and they employed practically as well as academically trained engineers. Among other things, light intensity and light diffusion could be studied and light distribution curves were worked out and tested for arc lamps. Here is a diagram with a graphic overview of their findings.
In the image below you can see five principal categories of visible-light radiation measured at Kandem: (Narrow Beam, Forward Narrow Beam, Forward Direct, Semi Indirect, Completely Indirect).
The rapidly growing enterprise benefited from Körting’s talent for business and practical applications in tandem with Mathiesen’s more scientific perspective. Striving for innovation had always been Kandem’s hallmark, putting the firm on the cutting edge of the rapidly growing and widespread use of electric power.
Until the First World War, production at Kandem had concentrated on arc lamps. During the war, it focused more on floodlights and spotlights and other defense procurement projects. After the war, it became necessary to change to a different range of products. That is where Bauhaus comes in. It was the Bauhaus artists whose sleek and functional lighting-fixture designs opened up the ‘modernity’ of the post-WWI lifestyle and the domestic-lighting market for Kandem.
The Bauhaus designs for lighting fixtures were admired and successful, introducing Kandem to the public market at large - one they had never known as a specialist firm in industrial and commercial lighting. The Kandem-Bauhaus partnership soon took on a character of its own - blending constant design alterations on the Bauhaus side in order to meet the technical requirements of Kandem’s light-specific innovations. For the Bauhaus partners, this brought a deeper understanding of industrial production methods. The Kandem-Bauhaus connection was a win-win with far reaching impact.
In the above image you can see an advertisement in the catalogue of the 1929 Cologne Werkbund Exhibition (Work Federation) presents the first Bauhaus models produced by Kandem.
The Bauhaus and Kandem cooperation lasted for five years until 1933, when the Bauhaus school closed its doors. But, the production of Kandem-Bauhaus lamps continued even after contracts with the Bauhaus had been dissolved. Moreover, the Bauhaus designs influenced all types of Kandem lighting fixtures, including lamps and lighting fixtures for the bath and kitchen, as well as for hotels, offices, cafes, and more. In each of Kandem’s categories of lighting fixtures, you’ll find at least one Bauhaus model.
Kandem lights continue to inspire us and the world of design today. In our Blom & Blom collection, we have a few special Kandem contenders you might want to check out: the Eared Turtle, Black Viper and the Pitviper.
As always, we welcome your questions or comments, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
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