Das Perfekt was a design critique project conducted in collaboration with artist and architect Sofia Dona at the Bauhaus University Weimar, as part of Christine Hill’s “Media, Trend, and Public Appearance” course.
We were outraged by the gender and class bias implicit in the “essential” book Architect’s Data (originally published in German as Bauentwurfslehre), authored by Ernst Neufert, one of the first and most famous students of the historical Bauhaus. Neufert’s text, published in 1936, was one of the first architectural handbooks to deal with ergonomics and standardization of building layouts and measurements. It contains many stylized illustrations describing how to design for an “ideal” western, European, male body. For instance, the proper proportions of a bathtub allow for a six-foot-tall man to stretch out completely, while a smaller female servant or wife can still reach across the width of the tub to clean it.
Our project sought to collect cast-off furnishings from around town and alter them to conform to Neufert’s strict standardization. We designed an intake procedure and form to collect data about the items, and documented the “perfection” process. The final presentation was an exhibition of the altered furniture in nearby Weimar-Gelmeroda, a small(er) town where Neufert built his own house and workshop, now the Neufert Stiftung – a foundation and publishing house for designers and architects.