We know great design when we see it. Chances are, you’ve heard some mention of Bauhaus. Its significance and forward-thinking designs are as impressive today as they’ve ever been.
It’s easier to understand the significance of this art movement if we take a crash course in the history behind Bauhaus. Don’t yawn yet. This is actually pretty impressive.
The Bauhaus was a design school founded by architect Walter Gropius that opened in Germany, shortly after World War I. With the world becoming progressively more industrialized, the Bauhaus came as an answer to a lot of problems. They managed to tie together fine and applied arts to create simple household items that could be mass-produced and accessible to the average person.
The Bauhaus was revolutionary in other avenues. Their demographics held a higher proportion of women and non-Germans than other schools and they had no academic requirements to enter the basic course. The first teacher at the school, Johannes Itten, was an artist who was trained as an elementary school teacher. Itten utilized these concepts by bringing play into the classroom as a method of discovery. The Bauhaus’ out-of-the-box interpretation of an arts education still permeates into arts schooling today.
So, you have innovation following a world war, art in the midst of upheaval, and otherwise marginalized students given a chance to express themselves.
What is Bauhaus?
What exactly is Bauhaus?
There are four key principles to the Bauhaus design.
Form Follows Function
Before Bauhaus, design was more lavish and extravagant. Excessive ornamentation (also known as tacky to some of us) was fairly typical and the “form” of the piece was prioritized over its function. However, in this school of thought, the function is prioritized. The forms were there to reflect the function.
Fine Art & Crafts
When speaking of the purpose of The Bauhaus, Walter Gropius said, “So let us, therefore, create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavored to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists!” In other words, “Let’s harmonize and create something that isn’t divisive.”
The teachers at Bauhaus believed that the materials used should be reflected in the end product, not hidden or modified for simple aesthetic purposes. The intentionality behind this design method was to ensure that pieces held their integrity from concept to completion.
Minimalism Reigns Supreme
Bauhaus design focused on black & white, the three primary colors, and three simple shapes (the sphere, the cube, and the cylinder.) Designers weren’t confined by these parameters but excelled in creating unique pieces.
Artists who came out of the Bauhaus looked at the world differently, taking everyday objects and turning them into pieces of art. During the school’s 14 year run, many iconic pieces were produced such as the Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer or Marianne Brandt’s tea infuser. The Bauhaus pieces urged designers to turn from more lavish to more minimalist forms that followed function.
We see the imprint of the Bauhaus in other styles today. The shift to minimalism goes back to the Bauhaus influence. Scandinavian design has also borrowed key elements of the Bauhaus design. The Bauhaus hallmark of experimenting with simple, functional elements has revolutionized the way we think of design.
Contemporary Use of Bauhaus
Bauhaus began the snowball effect in the design world. It gained momentum and over the decades has created this amazing minimalism movement. The ability to easily apply the simplistic style of Bauhaus to other industries is what makes it so alluring. Architecture, fashion, and interior design are just a few areas that Bauhaus has influenced.
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