Hedwig Bollhagen – Handmade Ceramics for more than 80 Years
It's been almost 20 years that I first held a piece of Hedwig Bollhagen ceramics in my hands. It was at Seidlein&Seidlein's on Bleibstreustraße, my personal favorite interior design spot in town at the time. The designs of the Bauhaus 'Grande Dame' had captivated me instantly. Their simplicity, as well as their versatility through various decors - some of them graphic, some playful and even a multitude of children's motives.
From the very first second, however, I was enamored with the all-white unpainted tableware. Those were the pieces that Hedwig Bollhagen started out with, aiming to design 'everyday tableware far away from ordinary' in their Marwitz workshop decades ago.
But let's start at the beginning: in 1907, Hedwig Bollhagen was born in Hannover. Member of an artistic family, she started studying at the academy of ceramics in Höhr-Grenzhausen in 1925. Several stages of artistic and creative development ensued. She drew much of her inspiration from the Werkbund where she developed her unmistakable style that has had a lasting impact on German and international art history.
In 1934, she opened up her factory workshop in Marwitz where, in many dainty work steps, high end ceramics are still being manufactured to this day. Each product is likely to pass up to 40 control steps before reaching a one-of-a-kind status. And while I do not intend to depreciate any of said work steps, the main focus has always been on painting.
In 1972, during the GDR, the company was socialized. Bollhagen pieces were sold on the quiet and only found their way back onto the mainstream market with the company’s re-privatization in 1992. The small venture continued suffering from the damages of the planned economy, with long-term to complete shortages in supply for instance. In 2012, under new leadership, the HB manufacture finally entered the future.
These days, you'll find countless distributors besides the original Marwitz manufacture. Among them renowned department stores such as KaDeWe in Berlin or Le Bon Marché in Paris. However, the workshop in Marwitz still offers the widest choice of products on 130 sqm, and is situated a mere 40-minute drive away from Berlin's city center.
Those who will not make it in person though will be relieved to know that there will be an online store by next year, offering the entire Hedwig Bollhagen product range. As it seems, modern technology can have its perks too!