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An open house

Deutsche Werkstätten have made a deliberate effort to create a truly ‘open’ work environment. There are no cellular offices, no reception rooms separating the management and there is certainly no sign of security staff. Instead the impressive industrial complex, built in 2006 on Moritzburger Weg, has been conceived as an open house. In fact, Deutsche Werkstätten has a history of welcoming visitors that dates back long before the new headquarters opened. In the early 90s, the decision to create a gallery space inside the original company headquarters and organize public exhibition openings generated significant interest. Silke Schuster, Fritz Straub’s assistant and with Deutsche Werkstätten since 1982, recalls how many of her colleagues used to help with the organization of these events. In those days it was a matter of all hands on deck. “On the day of an event we transformed a large disused saw into a buffet and whilst continuing with our usual tasks we managed to fill serving trays with canapés – regional specialities that were very popular with our guests in the evening.”

These activities were not only important in enhancing a sense of belonging and ‘team spirit’ among the workforce, they also encouraged an open exchange with the population of Hellerau. After all, Deutsche Werkstätten never saw itself as an island but instead always considered itself an integral part of the garden city. Cultural exchange and engaging with the local community continue to be important aspects of the Hellerau spirit. Although some things have changed over the years – canapés are no longer made in-house but delivered by the local baker – the special atmosphere remains.

Events are not the only opportunity to visit the building. Exhibitions are open to external visitors during working hours and you can always expect a friendly welcome.

Discussing Modernism in the East with GDR designers Rudolf Horn and Karl Clauss Dietel (2019) © Photo: PR DW/Juliane Richter