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Belgian designer born in Antwerp, who worked mainly in Belgium and Germany, Van de Velde studied painting at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Arts (1881–4) and later in Paris (1884–5). In 1892, he gave up painting for architecture and design. He was much influenced by the writings of John Ruskin and William Morris. By the end of the nineteenth century, Van de Velde established his own firm and factory near Brussels where he produced his curvilinear Art Nouveau furniture. Moving to Berlin in 1900, he designed in almost every field, including advertising graphics. In 1902, he was appointed to set up a school of applied arts in Weimar, which became the precursor of the Weimar Bauhaus. In 1907, he was a founding member of the Deutsche Werkbund, where he championed an artistic approach. This led in 1914 to disagreements with Hermann Muthesius, who believed in the standardization of design. In the same year, he had to resign his post in Weimar because of the war; among those he recommended as his successor was Walter Gropius. He later resided in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. He became honorary chairman of the Institute of Industrial Design for Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1956.
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