Tea Infuser and Strainer

Designer: Marianne Brandt (German, Chemnitz 1893–1984 Kirchberg)

Date: ca. 1924

Medium: Silver and ebony

Dimensions: H. 2-7/8 in. (7.3 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: The Beatrice G. Warren and Leila W. Redstone Fund, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.63a-c

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


During its brief existence (1919-33) the Bauhaus produced a group of architects and designers whose work profoundly influenced the visual environment of the twentieth century. These men and women believed that everyday objects, stripped of ornament, could achieve beauty simply through form and color. Brandt's tea infuser is the quintessential Bauhaus object. Only three inches high, its diminuitive size results from its function. Unlike conventional teapots, it is intended to distill a concentrated extract, which, when combined with hot water in the cup, can produce tea of any desired strength.

While incorporating the usual elements of a teapot, the designer has reinvented them as abstract geometric forms. The body is a hemisphere cradled on crossbars. The thin circular lid, placed off center to avoid drips (a common fault of metal teapots with hinged lids), had a tall cylindrical knop. The handle, a D-shaped slice of ebony set high for ease of pouring, provides a strong vertical contrast to the object's predominant horizontality. Although the pot is carefully resolved functionally, its visual impact lies in the uncompromising sculptural statement it makes. It is defiantly modern.