Peter Behrens was born in Hamburg in 1869. Behrens studied painting at the Karlsruhe School of Art, and then in Dusseldorf under Ferdinand Brutt. In 1890 he visited the Netherlands before settling in Munich. He was a member of the Munich Secession and mixed with the artistic radicals of his day. Behrens eventually abandoned painting in favour of graphic and applied arts.
In 1897 he was one of the founders of the Munich Vereinigte Werkstãtten (United Workshops). Behrens formed a close friendship with Otto Eckmann and designed for "Pan". .
His early career as a painter and graphic artist reveals him as an exponent of jugendstil artwork. .
In 1899 he was invited to Darmstadt to join the artists' colony. In Darmstadt, Behrens .
built his own house in which he designed every component, from structure down to cutlery. He designed the house specifically for the Darmstadt 1901 Exhibition. It incorporated both arts and crafts and jugendstil influences in an individualistic way that points to his later work. It received general praise, and was published in "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration". .
In 1902 Behrens designed the German entrance hall at the Turin Exhibition, with rectilinear furniture covered with leatherwork by Georg Hulbe. .
From 1903 to 1907 Behrens was director of the Dusseldorf School of Applied Arts. .
In 1906 he was asked to design publicity material for Emil Rathenau's A.E.G., the great electrical combine in Berlin, which had previously employed Adolf Messel and Otto Eckmann as designers. As artistic adviser, his job was to transform the entire image of the huge company. This marked the emergence of corporate identity. Behrens pioneered the concept and put it into practice. He often expounded his belief in the necessity of the unification of art and industry (an important point later taught by his students at the famous Bauhaus school). His identity also included another innovation. For A.E.G. he designed the first corporate typeface with sole ownership and use for and by A.