Switch-History - Switched on

Back in 1919, when Robert and Hugo Berker opened a “Special Factory for Electrotechnical Installation Equipment” in Schalksmühle, Germany, nobody could have guessed that their small company would rapidly grow to become a Major switch manufacturer. Two factors have been decisive to the company’s success: reliable technology and a Feeling for aesthetic form. Trends and crises have come and gone, but Berker has remained true to this tradition down the years.
A selection from 85 years of design history.

1919 - 1939

Berker Switches 1919


The start of something big: one of the very first rotary switches to be produced by Berker Brothers in Schalksmühle. It was every bit as simple, elegant and practical as every other subsequent model from Berker.

Berker Switches1928


Form follows function: At a time in which the Bauhaus was first making this idea great, the Berker brothers were already committed converts to the celebrated creed of architect Louis Henri Sullivan. Functional and perfect design combined with sound technology — Berker switches already had exactly what it takes to turn a product into a classic. And that’s what they became.

Berker Switches 1930


At the beginning of the 20th century, manufacturers became exclusively responsible for the safety of their products. In 1920, the Association of German Electrotechnical Engineers (VDE) established its own Control Office. The VDE mark of approval is still recognised as a guarantee of reliable installation. Berker was one of the first companies to manufacture its products according to VDE stipulations and submit them for testing. Back then, a switch really was just for switching something on and off. It was only much later that two-way, cross and series connections were introduced along with the corresponding switches.

Berker Switches 1936


The 15-K rapidly became a best seller. By the end of the war, more than a Million of these power switches had been manufactured in Schalksmühle — an amazing number for a specialist Switch.

Berker Switches 1939


A real child of its time: A 1939 rotary switch made of black Bakelite.

1948 - 1957


Traditionally, waterproof Switches were made of cast resin or porcelain. Berker’s moulded-plastic rotary switch was therefore a real innovation. With the thread of the rotary Switch pressed into top of the gland, and the shaft fitted with a grease chamber seal, the switch was so waterproof that the basic design features remained unchanged for decades.


Encouraged by the remarkable success of its patented flush-mounted triple socket-outlet, Berker followed up with a multi-socket table-type model in 1950.

When it’s dark, people search for light. Yet how can they find the switch if it’s still dark? Berker’s solution was to develop a switch in which the word “Licht” glows softly in the pushbutton as soon as darkness falls.

In the 1950s, electricians learned the virtues of the OSTA system. Jointly developed with AEG — the corresponding product series at Berker bore the name “Imputz” — OSTA was designed to enable largely dust-free Installation without the need to use a chisel. The Imputz switch pictured below also featured a small lamp to indicate whether the light in the room beyond was switched on or not.


The covers that came with this Switch were as colourful as any piece of modern art — which is why the vivid prototype was named “Chagall”. However, it never made it to market.

1958 - 1965


The age of the rotary and the tumbler switch gave way to that of the rocker switch. This early example featured a luminous rocker.


Despite its rather awkward name, the “Glandless Uniform Combination Outlet” was a highly versatile piece of equipment. For instance, the splash-protected surface-type WASKO switch with integrated light signal could be easily exchanged for any other product from the Berker damp-proof range. This meant reduced storage space for the wholesaler, problem-free installation for the electrician, and easy acquisition of replacement parts for the customer.


While some manufacturers went for a thick rocker dolly, and others a thin one, Berker split the difference and Chose the golden mean. The design was so well received that the switch was singled out by an international jury at the Hanover Trade Fair of 1963 for its “good industrial form”.

A surface-mounting switch from 1962 with a large rocker.


Maybe it had something to do with the spirit of the times, or the political climate, or even just that things had moved on, but the fact is that in the middle of the Sixties, the trend moved increasingly from round to square switches. This especially elegant model marked the end of an era at Berker.

1966 - 1980


It might seem completely natural today, but back in 1966 the launch of a Switch with a detachable cover that can be plugged back in once painting work has been completed marked a major Innovation as well as a great advance in convenience. Moreover, since the covers were always easy to replace, many well-preserved examples of this 1966 rocker switch are still in perfect working order today.


The name of this switch says it all: “Modul”. Using a modular principle, different colours and materials can be combined…


…and combined…


…and combined. The “Modul” series was also such a big success because it included the first complete metal switch to come in stainless steel — another real innovation from Berker.


A round peg in a square hole? For the “Starpoint” from Berker, squaring the circle was just one of the things it did well in the cool technocratic ambience of the Eighties.

1983 - 1990


The specialist for tough jobs: The “ISO-Panzer” is waterproof and shatter-proof


Clever & smart: Berker’s “Modul 2” combines high manufacturing quality, simple design and a superb priceperformance ratio.


With its traditional rotary switch and glass cover, the Berker “Glasserie” range elegantly spans two design eras.


The luxury light switch: the Berker “Palazzo” — in either marble or mahogany look, complete with decorative bezel in 24 carat rolled Gold.

1994 - 2000


Mission (im)possible: The extremely versatile “Arsys” comes in a wide variety of covers and designs. As a result, it is suitable for use in almost any design context.


With its interchangeable decorative ring, the “Twinpoint” from Berker opens up a wide range of design possibilities.


The “System TS” from Berker not only helps create unusual lighting effects but can also be used (in combination with an EIB instabus system) to operate a complete home-control System.

“Serie 1930”, an obvious child of the Bauhaus, is especially suitable for interiors designed in the classical modern style. Beneath the retro exterior is a fine example of ultramodern Technology.


Like a chameleon, the “B. 1” can fit in with almost any environment. Its basic colours can be combined with diverse colour strips.

Perfect proportions, clear functionality: The “Berker B.3” — brushed aluminium completes its simple elegance.

2000 - 2005


Simple, timeless and elegant: The Berker S.1 is already a modern classic.


Minimum fuss for maximum impact: The Berker “B.7 Glas” stands for distinguished reserve and elegant design.


It’s said that intelligence is a form of beauty, and the B.IQ certainly looks stunning: The world’s first intelligent and stylish home-control unit heralds a new era of comfort.

2005 - 2008


With its roots indisputably in the 1960s yet a clear affirmation of modern form, the K 1 combines the best of both worlds. Thanks to its puristic design and extreme versatility, it can be used almost anywhere. On show from 2005 onwards in upmarket homes and Offices.


The proven material is a thermoset material classics from the electric field. The award-winning design awards program switch "Berker S.1" with its simple, straightforward design language is now also available with a gloss finish of thermosetting plastic.


"Berker TS Sensor" – the new generation of sensory switching: a light touch on the fine glass surface is all that is needed to operate light, blinds and much more. Almost flush with the wall, the "Berker TS Sensor" is design reduced to the essential.


Two ground-breaking Berker series receive the Design Plus Award at the Frankfurt show for their outstanding and innovative design. Whilst the glamorous "Berker TS Crystal Ball" features sparkling Swarovski crystals and a sensitive optical reflection sensor, the classic, simple porcelain rotary switch "Berker 1930 Porzellan made by Rosenthal" is a journey back in time to the Bauhaus era.

2009 - 2010


Feel it! Touching the Berker "Q.1" light switch is a very special tactile experience. The distinctive velvety surface makes it unique and different to all the rest. Awarded the prestigious "red dot design award" and the Design Plus prize, "Q.1" boasts timeless design and a wide range of variants – making it the perfect all-rounder for both homes and large projects.


Developed by Berker in collaboration with the German Copper Institute and the Asklepios Hospital in Hamburg Wandsbek, the switch program "Arsys Copper Med" has now won the MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award 2010. The jury of the loans granted by the Munich Expo Awards recognizes a new switch range, the surface consists of a special copper alloy, which kills a variety of germs in no time. The innovative surface here comes in a range of switches used, the convinces with antibacterial properties by high design quality.

from 2011

With its continuously angular frame and round centre plates, the Berker R.3 is a celebration of the power of contrast. Just like the Berker R.1, its product range comprises all the properties of a contemporary surface switch. And, just like this, its stable plastic base makes it both robust and break-proof. Superbside-effect:
The Berker R.3 is ideally suited for installation in trunkings. Never was an architectural Highlight so easily built in!

It stands unmistakably in the tradition of great switch ranges. And yet, the Berker R.1 interprets the round radius anew in its own unique way. With its soft frame contour and a variety of functional versions, the soft round switch is a premium accompaniment for all residential and furnishing projects. Its black and polar white centre plate form a harmonious unit with high-quality materials such as acryl, concrete or leather.