Max Bill designed the Quadratrundtisch (Square-Round Table) in 1949 for Wohnbedarf, an established furniture store in Zurich with a penchant for modern design. This item of furniture put into practice Bill’s idea of concrete art in product design and is one of his most important designs.
The square table can be expanded into a circular surface using its folding edges that can be locked in place with a simple turn of the supporting rail. The resulting visual impression, with its rhythmical divisions, is reminiscent of Bill’s artistic works.
Max Bill’s wooden furniture is the physical expression of his strong conviction that functionality as well as economy in material and design go hand in hand with the realization of his form and aesthetic objectives. His designs and products are founded on the principles of: functionality; longevity; and economy of materials. The subject of industrial design has a special significance for Max Bill in the context of the destructive WWII years and the economic upswing in the postwar years that followed. He saw an opportunity to make the world a better place through product design. He detested design that followed fashionable trends with mere objective of commercial success, leading to consumerism and ultimately to waste. Bill’s main proposition, beauty as a result of function and as a function in itself, broke the rigid doctrine of form follows function. His objective was to place utilitarian objects in the larger context of nature and art and to bridge serial production with artisanal craftsmanship. Max Bill was a master in combining engineering rationalism with beauty.
Max Bill was born in 1908 in Winterthur. After studying applied arts in Zurich, in 1928 he began studying at the Bauhaus in Dessau, where his teachers included Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. After his time there he returned to Zurich, where he worked as a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, publicist and architect. In 1950 Bill became one of the co-founders of the School of Design in Ulm. He designed its buildings and was Vice-Chancellor until 1956. Regardless of whether he was working as architect, artist or designer, many of Max Bill’s objects are classics. He created countless designer objects, paintings, sculptures, posters, graphic material and buildings. Max Bill was one of the most important Swiss artists of the twentieth century. He died in Berlin in 1994 at the age of 85.