Lauweriks was a prominent theoretician who had a major impact on movements emerging in the early twentieth century, such as the Amsterdam School, De Stijl and Bauhaus. He also made an important contribution to disseminating the theory of proportions or systems thinking. He made applied art socially acceptable in architecture.
Mathieu Lauweriks was the son of Jean Hubert Lauweriks, who worked for P.J.H. Cuypers as head of the Cuypers- Stoltzenberg sculpture workshop. In 1865, the Lauweriks family moved with Cuypers to Amsterdam, where both families lived together until Lauwerik Sr.’s death in 1869.
Having trained at the Rijksnormaalschool voor Teeckenonderwijs (State School for Drawing) in Amsterdam, Lauweriks worked in Pierre Cuypers’ ateliers in Amsterdam and Roermond from 1887 to 1895. In 1895, he set up a studio for architecture and applied arts with K.P.C. de Bazel. From 1900 to 1904, he taught at the School voor Kunst en Kunstnijverheid (School of Art and Applied Arts) in Haarlem. Both Lauweriks and De Bazel were interested in theosophy but it did not come between them and Cuypers, who was a Catholic. De Bazel and Lauweriks took an active part in the society Architectura et Amicitia, where Lauweriks was regarded as the ideologist among the “revolutionaries” of the day.
Lauweriks started teaching at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Düsseldorf in 1905. Four years later he took up a position in Hagen, where he became director of the Staatliche Handfertigkeitsseminar, a state craft school, teaching woodcutting and design. His chief architectural works, such as Huis Stein in Göttingen and the artist’s colony Am Stirnbad, with houses for himself and for others, including Thorn Prikken, date from this period.
He returned to the Netherlands in 1916 to become director of the Kunstnijverheidsschool (School of Applied Arts) in Amsterdam. As a member of the editorial staff, he also contributed to Wendingen, a journal for which he designed a cover in 1929. He had already experimented with typography in “Der Ring”, a journal he set up in 1908.
Lauweriks was a prominent theoretician who had a major impact on movements emerging in the early twentieth century, such as the Amsterdam School, De Stijl and Bauhaus. He made an important contribution to disseminating the theory of proportions or systems thinking, building in that respect on Cuypers’ work. It was mainly Cuypers’ pupils, among whom Jan Hessel de Groot, Lauweriks and De Bazel, who introduced working with proportional systems. By continuously adapting and refining his systems-theoretical design method, he bridged the gap between Cuypers’ rationalism and post-1910 expressionism.
It would be hard to overstate the influence Lauweriks had on artists such as silversmith Zwollo Sr., Van Doesburg and Mondriaan through the journals Der Ring and Wendingen. The influence he had on the development of applied arts and interior design was also immense. While Lauweriks held countless lectures on colour, art philosophy and geometry with stereometric figures, he was also a hands-on artist in the field of “ornamental art”, introducing all manner of innovations and making applied art socially acceptable within architecture.