Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (German Art and Decoration) was an art nouveau magazine which was published by Alexander Koch. from 1897- 1935 in Darmstadt, Germany. Koch recognized that power of the art periodical to influence taste, particularly among a middle class audience, saying: “without our new art-periodicals (there would be) no decorative art.” [i] Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration was his homage to Jugendstil, but also one of the first attempts to focus exclusively on interior design.
Devoted primarily to the applied arts, the journal took its cue from the ideas of the Vienna Secession by seeking to eliminate the distinction between decorative and fine arts, and artist and craftsman. Within the pages of a typical issue, one could find subjects raging from ex-libris design, to type-design, to metal ware. The magazine also promoted the Vienna Secession’s exhibitions as well as covering the work of the Wiener Werkstätte in 12 special issues between October 1904 and March 1911.
Unlike other interior design magazines like Das Interieur which relied heavily on artists interior and architectural drawings, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration took full advantage of photographic reproduction. Seeing his magazine like a shop window, Koch brought the staged interior to prominence by arranging furniture and objects in ‘lived in’ settings. In this way, Koch could promote furniture, textiles, metalwork and jewelry items in the photo, while also promoting the lifestyle associated with it.
Koch’s experience working for the typographer and printer Flinsch of Offenbach am Main, as well as his excellent drawing skills meant that he took a special interest in the design of the magazine. Like Jugend, Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration allowed its featured artist to design the entire cover, thus reflecting Koch’s ideas of integration in the arts whereby text image should be in harmony with each other. In the first three years, there were cover designs by Hans Christiansen, Koloman Moser, Jan Toorop, Peter Behrens, and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.
[i] Heather Hess, The Wiener Werkstätte and the Reform Impluse, pg. 116