The Bauhaus was young, creative, dynamic – and 100 years after its founding, it’s still considered one of the most important schools of design in the world
EEverything different, everything new. Rational simplicity rather than newfangled extravagance. Clear geometry rather than ornate embellishment. The architectural Bauhaus creed: light, air, and sun. Large glass surfaces, white facades, cubic shapes symbolize the new clarity and openness of this design philosophy. Founded in 1919 in Weimar, the Bauhaus strove to unite art and crafts. In the workshops, ideas, designs and models were created that were to be functional, of high quality, and affordable. From teapots to carpets, to the finished home – people are to be surrounded by harmony and honest craftmanship in their living spaces. The materials stone, wood, metal, fabric, color, glass and clay are the essence of Bauhaus style. The goal: to develop independent prototypes in the workshops that could be marketed with big manufacturers.
Creating something new
In 1919, the world was changing, the war was over, democratic republics were established in Germany and Austria. These changes were reflected in the message of the designs as well: Get rid of the pompous, overly elaborate styles. Look forward, dare to do something new, use new materials.
Material: Tubular steel
A famous example: the revolutionary Bauhaus chair B5. No four legs or an upholstered seat but bent tubular steel with leather straps pulled taut as a seat and backrest. Bauhaus painter Wassily Kandinsky admired it so much that it was later called the Wassily Chair.
A classic that continues to be produced in many variations today.
Move to Dessau
After funding had been cut, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925. There, a spectacular school was built (today a World Heritage Site). In 1928, Gropius resigned as director; architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became director of the Bauhaus in 1930. In 1931, the National Socialists won the municipal elections and forced the closure of the school.
Key Bauhaus figures
The founder and his team
He’s considered the inventor of the Bauhaus: Walter Gropius (1883-1969). The architect and son of a Berlin privy councilor is appointed director of the newly established “Staatliches Bauhaus” in Weimar in 1919. The core message in his manifesto: Architects, sculptors, painters … we all must return to crafts. Gropius was able to engage some of the most important artists of his time as teachers: the painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, the sculptor Oskar Schlemmer, the photographer László Moholy-Nagy, and the designer Marcel Breuer who invented the famous B5 cantilever chair.
Though the Bauhaus was founded at a time of revolution for women too, female students remained on the periphery of the circle of male Bauhaus members. There was, however, some strong female influence: Gunta Stölzl created the weaving class and became well known for her work, as did Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy and the designers Marianne Brandt and Alma Siedhoff-Buscher.