Designer Max Bill by Griffwerk


In the 1950s, the founding rector of the Ulm School of Design Max Bill collaborated with his student Ernst Moeckl to design a door handle for the school building. The ULM HANDLE was relaunched in 2013. Working closely with Dr. Jakob Bill, the son of Max Bill who is currently chairman of max+binia and jakob bill Foundation (Zurich), Ulm-based company Griffwerk has reproduced a handle that matches the form and design intention of the original. The project demanded that the handle be “capable of use in modern times” and therefore available to today’s architects and interior designers. This required adaptation to the latest norms and standards, as well as common fittings components used in buildings. Griffwerk simply revised the internal workings of the handle, also making it some eight percent larger so that its proportions match those of other fittings components. The handle bears the signature of Max Bill by Griffwerk, as proof that it has been authorised as a licensed original design. As a result, it is a unique product worldwide, clearly distinguishable from imitations.

During the reconstruction process, the Zurich-based designers Kevin Fries and Jakob Zumbühl, to whom Griffwerk turned for support, adhered painstakingly to the detail of the original specifications. Notes, archive drawings and original handles from the Ulm School of Design helped them to reproduce the article. They worked closely with the development department at Griffwerk and under the watchful eye of the Bill Foundation to produce the shape. The size of the lever handle itself was increased by just eight percent so that its proportions match those of the other components in the Griffwerk Professional product line, such as the Class 4 certified screw-on roses.

Great names demand careful treatment

The licence to use the Max Bill signature was granted to Griffwerk by Dr. Jakob Bill in December 2012. The original design of the UIm handle followed strict mathematical principles: The cross-section of the handle neck describes a perfect circle, which narrows in regular steps to form the ellipse at the end of the handle. The strict rigidity of the design principles is masked by the shape of the original handle, which, just like the Ulm Handle by Griffwerk, appears to be soft and flowing. There is not the slightest kink to interrupt the handle’s contours, which create an exceptionally caressing touch.

Technically demanding manufacturing by Griffwerk

Originating from the credo of functionalism, the current handle will now be available to a much broader range of applications thanks to its addition to the product family. Griffwerk has also endowed the handle with exceptional quality characteristics. The lever, milled from solid metal, reveals a convincing connection to the rest of the Professional product line, with high-quality details such as a sub-construction from stainless steel, retaining springs on both sides, a maintenance-free Teflon coating, as well as small details such as the invisible grub screw that Griffwerk has banished to the underside. This detail alone requires left and right-handed versions to be produced separately. The only tools required to assemble the fittings are a normal screwdriver and an Allen key. This means that the handle is also an attractive option for lovers of great design who are undertaking renovation projects. In return for a sale price of around €127 for a pair, Griffwerk provides a 30-year functionality guarantee.

The name of the designer Max Bill is branded on the top of the door handle.