Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens is a famous German designer who is best known for his work with the company AEG. Born in Hamburg on April 14, 1868, Behrens went on to study painting at Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe. In between his studies and when he became most influential, Behrens was considered a “mediocre” painter until he started honing in on the world of industrial design. The design of his own house was the turning point in his career where he decided to shift from a career in painting to the design of architecture. Appointed to be the director for the Art Institute in Dusseldorf in 1907 where he once studied, Behren grew as a designer. As a teacher, he was able to delve into art reforms and with the aid of other designers, he played a role in the creation of the German Werkbund. It was his role in this group that grew his name and attention from others. This group, inspired by ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement and William Morris, focused on everyday product design and how to improve it (“Peter Behrens,” Visual Arts Cork). In 1907 Emil Rathenau hired Behren as the artistic advisor for AEG products. With these designs, Behren became even more widely known as an influential and modern designer. Behren built the factory complex of AEG and at the time, his turbine assembly with the glass curtain wall design became the most famous piece of architecture in Germany. In addition to the architecture of this building, Behren designed trademarks and products for AEG (“Peter Behrens,” erih). 

His architectural style paired functionality and elegance, using modern materials with classical proportions. Behrens work has been described as “purely functional modern industrial building can still have a link with the architecture of the past” (“Peter Behrens,” Visual Arts Cork). The unique and new techniques and style that Behren and his team created went on to be modeled in other areas of German architecture and products as well as other areas of the world. Behren later taught at other art universities including Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Department of Architecture at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. Berhens career came to an end in 1940 with his passing but his legacy and impact lives on. His work is seen in other facets of architecture and design. His modernist style traveled globally and can be seen in architecture around the world. Specifically in New York City, his use of steel and glass inspired tall skyscrapers (“Peter Behrens,” Britannica). 

Peter Behrens was arguably the most influential designer for modern architecture. Today’s designers can learn a lot from his ideas, techniques, and creations. It is one thing to model a style or previous idea in design, and there are times where imitation is perfectly suited for design, but by creating something new, Behrens style influenced the globe. His blend of materials and technique became a standard for architecture and inspired others to be innovative. Behrens can be described as an inspiration, assiduous, a leader, and pivotal. These aspects of Behrens allowed him to grow as a designer and create a new branch of architecture that would sweep over continents. 



“Peter Behrens (1868 – 1940).” ERIH, 

“Peter Behrens (1868-1940).” Peter Behrens: Biography of German Modernist Architect, 

“Peter Behrens.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Feb. 2021,