Max Burchartz

Max Burchartz (1887-1961) is best known for his graphics and photo-montages. He was involved in the Constructivist International with László Moholy-Nagy and Theo van Doesburg. Burchartz was an influential (if now relatively forgotten) figure in the development of the door handle during Modernist period. Responsible for overseeing the design of the ranges and the corporate design of German manufacturer Wehag, his hardware designs of the late 1920s reflect the same clarity and the Constructivist aesthetics which also informed his graphic work.

Originally conceived in 1929 as an economy item suitable for social housing, the lever handle was picked up by Modernist architects as an unobtrusive design perfectly suited to the emerging Functionalist aesthetic. One of these architects was the Georgian-born Berthold Lubetkin who became perhaps the single most important figure in the importation of continental architectural Modernist ideas into England. Lubetkin used Burchartz’s handles on Highpoint 1 & 2 in Highgate and on a number of smaller private houses around the country.