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What Is Bakelite ?

Bakelite (Phenolic Resin) belongs to the group of thermosetting polymers.

Phenolic Resins marks the beginning of the age of synthetic plastics. Already 1905 Dr. Leo.H. Baekeland Worked on the condensation of carbolic acid and formaldehyde. In 1907 he registered his pressure and heat patent in America, patent number 942699 in the USA.

Under the brand name "Bakelite" the first purely synthetic plastic gained world renown because the characteristics of this material were remarkable:


excellent electrical insulation made it quite desirable as casing for the growing electrical industry
for making patterned molds, which enabled increased production.
The ingredients to make the resin (carbolic acid and formaldehyde) were easily obtainable and available in large amounts.
Objects made of phenolic resin were highly in demand, especially between the First and Second World Wars.


Today the resin is used mostly for heavy industry products and less for daily necessities. For example, the material is used often for Leiterplatten(?), pieces of machinery which are under great thermal and mechanical pressure such as brake pads. In addition,to this day,phenolic resin is also used as a binder for sheets in wood and foam materials.


How it came to be .

The Jörg Zimmermann Collection - How it came to be.

I discovered my passion for objects for everyday usage made of patterned molds of DUROPLAST. 

The magnificient array of design pieces from the turn of the 20th century fascinate me the most. As a decorator and designer  I’am collecting all kinds of different objects made of Bakelite for my own personal need for inspiration.,

Since 1985, my wife and I scour the markets of the world for rare pieces. Today, the collection consists of over 6000 pieces.

I showed our collection (the things designers dream of to the Swiss public from May 4-13th, 2001 at the MUBA  (Basel Trade Fair).


The Special Exhibition

Dear Ladies and Genlemen,

The Bakelite Special Exhibition was a huge success.  One doesn’t see so many people smiling that often.

Many were moved by the sight of objects which they use in their daily lives or which reminded them of their beloved parents or grandparents. The exclamations heard were:   unbelievable, fantastic, wonderful. No one could believe the immense number of Bakelite pieces on display. Some people stopped by just to thank me and congratulate me for putting so much time and energy into the creation of this exhibition  -  even though sponsors were few. The management of the Basel Trade Fair was also very excited and brought me together with partners who showed an interest in exhibiting my collection at their fairs; Palais Beaulieu, LUGA. I am looking forward to the challenging opportunities that await me and I am convinced that I will not dissappoint. I would also like to thank my team, my wife, and all of those people who helped me and who continue to support me in doing the extraordinary.

What Is Bakelite?
How it came to be
The Special Exhibition