Thing of the Month June 2019
Design and Production: Deutsche Privat Telephon Gesellschaft H. Fuld & Co., Frankfurt Main, 1928
Material: Body, handset and handset fork made of black bakelite, textile cable
The Fuld telephone is also called the "Bauhaus telephone", Marcel Breuer and Richard Schadewell first became involved as designers. In fact, the telephone was not created at the Bauhaus, but as part of the comprehensive urban planning programme »Das Neue Frankfurt«. In 1927, the Frankfurt-based manufacturing company H. Fuld & Co. initiated an artistic competition for new forms of telephones, after which the "Frankfurt" telephone model came onto the market.
This version with black bakelite handset and textile cable was produced until the 1930s and then continued by variants with differently shaped handsets and plastic elements.
Presented in 1929 in the Frankfurt Register for the furnishing of apartments in Frankfurt's housing estates, the Fuld telephone with its box-shaped form bears witness to the technical design ideal of the time. As an exemplary industrial product, it adorned the cover of the Werkbund magazine »Die Form« from April 1930 issue. A representative of the Fuld company is quoted in it with the catchy sentence: "We do not employ any artists."
However, the technicians were responsible for the final design of the product. According to the Competition Report, none of the proposals submitted for the telephone could be accepted in their entirety, even though Richard Schadewell's design was appreciated and accepted as a solid basis: "After careful consideration of all the technical and formal requirements, the jury unanimously came to the conclusion that none of the designs sufficed completely, so that the distribution of a first prize was out of the question. In view of the fact that the design considered as the second prize did not fully satisfy the conditions, but from a formal point of view showed a particular suitability for solving the task at hand by further elaboration, an increase of the second prize was awarded to this design."
The Fuld telephone is on display in our current special exhibition »Unique piece or Mass Product?«.