Bauhaus‘ lasting impression on design and architecture
14 years. The movement didn’t need any longer to completely revolutionise the fields of design and architecture. The Bauhaus Movement, founded in 1919, was one of the most influential in history. 100 years later, we reflect on the beginnings of this visionary institution.
The modern movement
The German architect Walter Gropius laid the foundation for a new understanding of design, art and architecture with the establishment of a state art school in Weimar, the State Bauhaus. This school was to establish a new building culture, which could exist independent of the social status of its workers. Gropius wanted to promote a return to handwork by counteracting the separation of artists and artisans. Art and handwork should no longer be taught separately, as craftsmanship is an art and art is a craft. Even the typical academic admissions criteria were lifted. Every talented young person, regardless of gender or nationality, would have the opportunity to prove themselves at the Weimar Bauhaus. Of the 150-200 students enrolled on average per semester, 25-50% were women and 17-33% foreign students. With Bauhaus, Gropius created not only a countermovement to mass production, but also a modern movement that is still characterised today by the removal of social boundaries.
The Bauhaus was only active for 14 years: as the “State Bauhaus” in Weimar, as a “school of design” in Dessau and as a private education institute in Berlin. […]. Its ideas had an impact well beyond the school itself, its locations and its time.
— Bauhaus 100
The union of art and craftsmanship
The goal of Bauhaus studies was to unite art and technical skills. Students learned everything from graphics to architecture to set design in different workshops in order to understand not only the principals of technical handwork, but also those of aesthetic design. The Bauhaus building in Dessau is just one of many examples of the architectural principals of Bauhaus. True to the motto “form follows function,” the foundations of the movement are defined by clean, minimal forms. The furniture created in the art school’s workshops was ultimately a kind of by-product. And yet it is precisely these iconic designs, such as the Wagenfeld light (one of our favourite design lights of all time) and cantilever chairs that continue to convey the essence of Bauhaus philosophy to this day. The clean lines that form each individual element, timeless design and perceptible harmonisation of art and craftmanship make Bauhaus furniture classics of the modern age.
The end of an era
After the politically forced closure of the Bauhaus in Weimar, it was relocated to Dessau in 1925. The restructuring of the State Bauhaus into a School of Design finally allowed for the desired unity of art and craftmanship to take full effect and Bauhaus flourished as a result. But there was mistrust and unrest even in Dessau, forcing Gropius to fight for the survival of the school from 1927 onwards. In September 1932, the city of Dessau decided to close the Bauhaus as well. The subsequent move to an old telephone factory in Berlin was only temporary until the school’s ultimate closure on July 20, 1933.
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