Paula Straus: The Redis­co­very of the Indus­trial and Jewelry Desi­gner with Roots in Schwä­bisch Gmünd

Paula Straus 12

On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, Univer­sity of Applied Sciences Schwä­bisch Gmünd (HfG) invited inte­rested visi­tors to a lecture on the life and work of the indus­trial desi­gner Paula Straus. Paula Straus, born in Stutt­gart in 1894, completed her trai­ning in Schwä­bisch Gmünd. The works of the successful indus­trial and jewelry desi­gner were exhi­bited throug­hout Germany and inter­na­tio­nally. In 1943, she was murdered by the Nazis in the Ausch­witz concen­tra­tion camp. A current exhi­bi­tion in Stutt­gart was the occa­sion for the redis­co­very of an important desi­gner with local roots.

A great career, a tragic end

Paula Straus“ career began in Schwä­bisch Gmünd. From 1911 to 1916, she trained as a golds­mith at what was then known as the König­liche Fach­hoch­schule für Edel­me­tall­in­dus­trie“ (today’s Univer­sity of Applied Sciences, Hoch­schule für Gestal­tung Schwä­bisch Gmünd, HfG). She then became one of the first women in Germany to be a master student at the Kunst­ge­wer­be­schule in Stutt­gart. In 1925, she began working as an indus­trial desi­gner at renowned Heil­bronn silver­ware factory Peter Bruck­mann; here she created silver­ware in an inno­va­tive design language that was comple­tely committed to the modern spirit of the times. At the 1929 World’s Fair in Barce­lona, her work was awarded the Grand Prix. At the same time, but also after her dismissal from Bruck­mann in 1933, she was successfully active as an inde­pen­dent jewelry desi­gner. This excep­tional female career came to a bitter end with National Socia­lism. In 1939, the National Socia­lists issued a work ban against Paula Straus, who was Jewish. In 1942, she was deported from Stutt­gart to There­si­en­stadt and killed in Ausch­witz in February 1943.

Lecture in Schwä­bisch Gmünd/​Exhibition in Stutt­gart on the Life and Work of Paula Straus

Until September 10, the Stadt­Pa­lais Stutt­gart is showing a special exhi­bi­tion about Straus“ work. Univer­sity of Applied Sciences Schwä­bisch Gmünd took this as an oppor­tu­nity to honor Paula Straus“ life and her roots in Schwä­bisch Gmünd with a lecture by Dr. Monika Sänger. Years of work by the couple Rein­hard and Monika Sänger provided the essen­tial ground­work for the redis­co­very of the artist, culmi­na­ting in the publi­ca­tion of the mono­graph Paula Straus – Vom Kunst­hand­werk zum Indus­trie­de­sign“ (Stutt­gart, Arnold­sche Verlags­an­stalt, 2023). Around 75 guests attended the event at HfG at the end of June 2023 and gained an infor­ma­tive insight into the design culture in Schwä­bisch Gmünd at the time and into the life and work of Paula Straus.