A native of Kiel, Peter Keler gravitated to the artist’s colony of Worpswede in the 1920s. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement in England, Heinrich Vogeler had transformed his house in Worpswede into a Gesamtkunstwerk – aligning the colony with the Swiss-German "Lebensreform" movement in the process.
The impact of the movement’s vision of far-reaching social and political reform is readily apparent in the sheer diversity of Keler’s output, which included painting, graphic design, architecture, photography and furniture. When his colleague Wilhelm Wagenfeld left Worpeswede for the Bauhaus in Weimar, Keler followed in his footsteps. In 1921 he attended Johannes Itten’s preliminary training course.
Later that year Keler enrolled in Oskar Schlemmer and Wassily Kandinsky’s mural painting seminar, of which he was a member until 1925. During his time at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Keler devised colour schemes for a range of structures and rooms, including the office floor of the Fagus Factory in Alfeld an der Leine, and the director’s office used by Walter Gropius in the Bauhaus Building.
The various objects of furniture created by Keler during this period include a cradle inspired by the teachings of Wassily Kandinsky, which he completed for the first Bauhaus Exhibition of 1923. In the summer of 1922, Keler became a member of KURI (an acronym for constructive, utilitarian, rational, international), a group of designers and artists with constructivist ambitions active at the Bauhaus.
Following his departure from the Bauhaus, Keler established his own studio for fine and applied painting, graphic design for advertising and interior design. Keler worked as a creative consultant for companies in the textile and machine industry in Saxony between 1928 and 1936. He was banned from showing his work in public between 1937 and 1945 by the Nazi government. Following the war, he accepted the invitation to teach at the newly founded Hochschule für Baukunst und bildende Künste in Weimar. Two years later, Keler was awarded a professorship, a position that he held at the school until 1963. Keler worked as a freelance architect in Weimar from 1968 onwards.