Behrens embodied a wide range of visionary talents. A Renaissance man in the true sense of the word, he moved with ease between several disciplines: painting, graphic design, architecture, and furniture design. Behrens worked with, and was an inspiration to, some of the biggest names in Modernism, including one Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school.
When Behrens came to AEG, he brought with him a simple but powerful design philosophy that was to be the enduring hallmark of the AEG company and its products.
The paradigm shift that Behrens effected in AEG and in the self-conception of German industrial design as a whole was based on the notion of developing electrical household appliances with an eye both to aesthetics and the specific function of the object. To quote Behrens himself: "Design is not about decorating functional forms - it is about creating forms that accord with the character of the object and that show new technologies to advantage."
But product design was just the beginning. Behrens went on to embed himself and his design approach in the entire corporate culture. He designed factories that were tailored to the individual requirements of AEG and its workers; he created not only the company logo, but the company's whole corporate identity, including numerous advertising campaigns.
In today's world, we are surrounded by strong, easily-recognisable brands. It was not always like this.
It was Behrens' creativity that first established the "corporate identity" concept as the basic element of the philosophy of an industrial company and its brands.
So it is no surprise that Behrens changed the form of functional objects in a way that is still visible today - in the outstanding concepts developed by top designers at AEG.
The AEG design team combines a range of creative talents. Each person brings his or her own unique influences to the table, but all work together towards Peter Behrens' goal of designing every electrical product to be "perfect in form and function". 100 years after Peter Behrens first joined the company, this powerful source of inspiration is still alive and vibrant - and still bringing forth a whole range of impressive innovations.
Water treatment is one recent example. This new and exciting range of products, launched in January 2009, introduces not only innovative items such as water filtration and purification but also a new level of design on both the products and the packaging.
Another example is our new line of telecommunication products such as: the DECT phone, Cromo, which offers a photo-phonebook, or the mobile phone, Fono, a simple and easy to use device with elegant design and functions like emergency call and SMS functions. The focus on design is also manifested by Colombo, a DECT phone that received the 2009 "iF product design award".
These are products designed for the 21st century, inspired by an outstanding figure in the history of Germany and of AEG: Peter Behrens - the founder of industrial design and the spiritual father of today's AEG design team.
AEG is founded in Berlin by Emil Rathenau. It all starts with a few patents which Emil had bought from the American inventor Thomas Edison. The first product produced under the AEG brand is electric light bulbs.
AEG introduces the first transportable drilling machine.
Peter Behrens is appointed Artistic Consultant at AEG and becomes the world's first industrial designer.
AEG introduces its first electric locomotive.
The birth of the first fully-automatic washing machine - the LAVAMAT.
AEG brings the first fully-electronic oven to the market.
AEG expands into identification systems such as transponders for tracking goods or animal identification.
AEG launches its first outdoor applications for LCD information systems used at many railways stations, airports, and on buses. However, AEG had utilized LCD technology as early as 1970.
AEG is incorporated in the Electrolux Group.
Over 123 years of inspiration are behind us. The next 125 are just beginning!