Sculptor, painter and designer - Trude Petri from Hamburg is one of the most important designers of her time. The evidence of this success story can still be found today in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today you will find out how Petri and the KPM Berlin found each other.

Trude Petri was born in Hamburg on August 25, 1906. From 1925 to 1927 she attended the state schools for fine and applied arts in Hamburg and began training as a potter. In 1927 she moved to Berlin and worked under Otto Gothe at the United State School for Free and Applied Arts (today UdK Berlin) in the ceramics class. This was Trude Petri's first contact with the manufactory, as Otto Gothe's ceramics class, in which she studied, was affiliated with the Berlin State Porcelain Manufactory (KPM Berlin).

From 1928, Petri initially worked as a freelancer at the Berlin State Porcelain Manufactory (KPM Berlin) under the direction of Nicola Moufang. When Günther von Pechmann took over management of the manufactory in 1929, Petri was employed as a permanent designer. Two years later, the sculptor, painter and designer designed the URBINO dinner service. Consistently constructed from the basic shape of the spherical section, URBINO impresses with its clarity and elegance and is a perfectly shaped classic made of “white gold”.

As simple as possible, as elegant as possible

For the design, which the KPM Berlin first presented to the public in 1932, Petri was inspired by Chinese rice bowls and flagless ceramic plates of the Italian Renaissance. Despite its historical role models, URBINO reveals the influences of the Bauhaus period in which it was created. The versatility of the service was also highlighted again and again. This means that the lid of the bowl can also serve as a bowl when placed on the handle. KPM Berlin was also the first artistically ambitious traditional manufacturer to successfully bring a completely undecorated service onto the market, which represented the Werkbund's aspirations for “pure form” like no other. So it is not surprising that the URBINO form appeared on the VI in 1936. Triennale di Milano with the gold medal and in 1937 at the International Exhibition in Paris with a Grand Prix. URBINO is considered a model for timeless porcelain design and is exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In collaboration with the sculptor Siegmund Schütz, she developed the ARKADIA service in 1938 for the manufactory's 175th anniversary. The design is characterized by clear lines; the vessels are cylindrical or conical. The plates, with their sharp break between the rim and the mirror, were created based on the pewter plates of the 17th century. The individual parts of the service are decorated with medallions made of unglazed porcelain. The story of the dream land of Arcadia is told on the artistically cut relief medallions designed by Siegmund Schütz. Arcadia, the landscape of the Greek Peloponnese, was the setting for Hellenistic and Roman pastoral poetry.

Before glazing, the medallions are protected by a layer of wax applied with a brush. The wax melts during the firing, releasing the delicate bisque porcelain medallions and the remaining porcelain surfaces shine with their shine.

The ARKADIA collection

Trude Petri developed the form of the FIELD FLOWERS RELIEF ON BOARD service in 1940 together with Gerhard Gollwitzer. A delicate relief of field flowers and grasses is scattered across the surface with a light hand. In its generosity, it provides a playful counterpoint to the strict lines of the design. The service charmingly reflects nature in porcelain.

Trude Petri's desire to create porcelain that was as simple as it was elegant led to the creation of the FLOWER CUP in 1947. To mark the 100th birthday of the important KPM designer, KPM Berlin released a new edition of the timeless and functional vase in 2006. The FLOWER CUP gives every bouquet an elegant look without pushing itself into the foreground.

In 1967, her last design for KPM Berlin, the “Tea” vase (today CADRE), was produced. At the age of 90, Trude Petri died on February 5, 1998 in Vancouver, where she moved after the death of her husband. But their designs have survived and are still made by hand today and celebrated as design classics.

Vases by Trude Petri