Svend Weihrauch: Solv/Silber 1928-1956
En dansk funktionalist

by Jorg Schwandt 

(text is taken in whole from the single page English Summary at the end of the book)

“From 1928 to 1956, the silversmith Svend Weihrauch (1899-1962) was in charge of the workshop and production activities at the Franz Hingleberg Silversmiths company in Arhus, Denmark- as well as being the company's sole designer. Weihrauch's early consistent use of rationalised production techniques within the sphere of a traditional craft established him as an exponent of functionalism – a fact confirmed by the international success of his work from 1932 onwards, particularly at the World's fair in Brussels in 1935, Paris in 1937, and New York in 1939.

Franz Hingelberg Silversmiths was distinguished by both the application of specialized labor and the use of the mechanical spinning process in the production of hollowware. The extensive use of highly rationalized production techniques allowed considerable leeway for a high degree of craftsmanship in subsequent work processes. The technical processes thus became the dominant influence on the design, as when the smooth surface served to reveal the use of spinning as the production technique. The main material used for insulation was ebonite, an industrially produced substance made from natural rubber and sulphur. The ebonite was subsequently cut and polished by hand.

Until 1954, Weihrauch's hollowware consisted almost exclusively of unique items. Most unpretentious pieces were occasionally produced in series of approx. four to six, but they always varied in detail.

Svend Weihrauch was unusually prolific. In the course of his twenty eight years at Hingelberg's he drafted approx. 4,500 designs for hollowware, cutlery and jewelry and almost all of these were produced.

The hollowware of the early years already features a strictness of shape, while still using the floral and geometrically inclined elements of the Art Deco style. In the more stereometric forms from 1931/32 onward, however, the aesthetic effect is derived from revealing the technical processes involved. The undisturbed reflections from the smooth surface enhance the effect of the pure geometrical shapes. The individual component parts are kept separate from each other to emphasize their different functions. This allows a composition of forms that expresses itself in vivid contrasts. Over time, Weihrauch adopts new techniques for attaching the insulation material, illustrating the functional interplay with the silver while at the same time being extremely decorative.

From c. 1935 onward, the stringent constructivism of Weihrauch's designs gives way to shapes that are increasingly organic in inspiration. Even though the individual parts of an item of silverware now flow into each other, their geometric origin is always discernible. The contrasting effects still remain, but are now caught up in an outer rhythm.

In the 1950's the character of many of the pieces derives from the inner forces at work. In many cases, a central organic principle determines the shape of almost all the parts. Exampled of this are the egg and droplet shapes and the movement of a wave. Where a handle continues as one single uninterrupted line onto the rim and the foot of a piece, a degree of unity that is almost sculptural in effect is achieved.

The cutlery designed by Svend Weihrauch is distinguished by the functionalist sense of simplicity and marks the beginning of a new epoch in design. Until 1948, such cutlery was exclusively made by hand, and thus only found in small numbers. Again, the design has its origins in the technical process involved. The decoration is both economical and strict in form, achieved by means of simple craftsmanship or by adding prefabricated parts.

Weihrauch's work in jewelry design is of lesser significance. The pieces featuring naturalistic floral decoration demonstrate all the skills of traditional craftsmanship, and are primarily tribute to Weihrauch's additional training as a silver chaser. From 1940 onward, his jewelry uses silver wire, so that here, too, the production techniques influence the design.

The Hingelberg company was founded in 1897 and ran its own silversmith's workshop from 1928 until 1971. The company still exists today, but only in the form of a jeweler's shop and a goldsmith's workshop. It is here that the six large work journals containing photographs and much other material from the period 1928-67 are kept. Svend Weihrauch's drafts are now in the Erhvervsarkivet in Arhus, the Danish archive for documents relating to commercial activity.”