Ulm School of Design

Hochschule für Gestaltung

The Ulm School of Design (HfG) was a famous design school that followed the Bauhaus design. Founded in 1953 by Inge Aicher-Scholl, Otl Aicher and Max Bill with the support of the USA it became well-known for the idea that form follows function and the expression “to ulm up”. The HfG was closed in 1968.


The HfG buildings are situated far-off the center of the provincial Swabian city Ulm. It seems that the HfG never really managed to establish a relationship to the people of Ulm. The war was just over and people struggled to get comfortable in their new realities when these strange designers from all over the world appeared in Ulm just to preach the end of German kitsch and comfy arm chairs.

When I first saw the HfG buildings I just found them cold and empty. Its rooms and halls are high and light-flooded. When it was built only the cheapest material was available and students had to help during the construction work.


HFG Wohnhaus




The only non-angled place at the HfG was the curved bar in the cafeteria. It was the place to eat, meet and discuss. In the beginning there weren’t enough chairs for the students. Max Bill invented the Ulm stool, a kind of makeshift chair. Each student had to assemble his own stool, a practical piece of furniture for sitting, as a table or tray. Today they are sold as expensive design product


The HfG foyer today

The foyer during the 60s

the curved bar


HFG Detail


Today the buildings are used as a day hospital for psychologically impaired people. But the city of Ulm is planning to establish a “designpark”. The HfG Archives are going to move back in there too. Right now there is not much to see inside except a suite of armchairs and a table. However the Ulmer Museum has a remarkable exhibition with HfG design displays.

Ulmer Hocker

Ulm stools
HFG Stapelgeschirr

HFG Grafiken

Exhibits at the museum
HFG Fotos

plakat hfg

This poster is the only HfG piece I own. It was designed at around 1965 by Tomás Gonda who was a member of the visual design group working with Otl Aicher. The background shows the entrance of the famous Ulmer Minster which is the tallest church in the world. At that time the market sqare around the minster was a giant parking lot.

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

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    […] was totally new at the time and must have shocked some people. Just like the Bauhaus and the later HFG Ulm, Neues Bauen wanted to eradicate everything that was homey, cozy and […]

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