Max Bill

Max Bill in Ulm

The Ulm School of Design (HfG) is regarded as the most important international design institute since the Second World War. It was founded in 1953. The former Bauhaus student Max Bill designed the architectural concept. Together with his student, Ernst Moeckl, he designed a handle for the university building in the 1950‘s.

We contacted his son Dr. Jakob Bill in 2012 when the university building was being renovated and refurbished. This was followed by precise research and intensive development work with the support of the designer Jakob Zumbühl and Kevin Fries. The specification of the shape of the original was to be precisely retained and, at the same time, the aim was to ensure that the handle also technically meets all 21st century requirements.

Ulmer handles by Griffwerk


The Ulm handle

The handle was precisely mathematically constructed based on the original design drawings. The handle forms a sequence of diminishing ellipses. Together they form an elegant arc completely without any “break“. The neck of the handle, in the shape of a semicircle, blends softly and in a flowing movement into the grip. The formal mathematical design could not ultimately be seen in the final result. It was a functional method to develop a door handle with an exceptionally pleasing feel and timeless clarity.

The redesign developed in this 2012 cooperation, with the approval of the max, binia + jakob bill foundation, Zurich, is permitted to carry the signature “max bill“.

With respect and license

GRIFFWERK’s reedition of the ULMER GRIFF shows the same, characteristic transition from a circular shape to an elipse. The shape is based on a mathematical principle, just as Max Bill had originally called for in his 1946 work, “The Mathematical Approach in Contemporary Art”.

The ULMER GRIFF BY GRIFFWERK is the only licensed reedition in the world, and is therefore authorised to bear Max Bill’s signature.


Would you like to learn more about Max Bill's time at the Bauhaus? The book "max bill am bauhaus" published by Benteli-Verlag provides numerous insights on 93 pages (ed. Dr. Jakob Bill).