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How the Bauhaus Rebuilt Everything

Written by:
Sydney Smith

About asymmetrical buildings, simple geometry, functional furniture and other things we love about the Bauhaus.

The Bauhaus School ushered in a new era of architecture and design that still influences the way our homes, furniture, and even our iPhones look (yes, Apple is inspired by the Bauhaus style). Elegance, simplicity, and functionality are the main features that have made this style so popular around the world.

To grasp why the Bauhaus remains iconic, we've gathered all the essentials: from the school's history to how contemporary artists continue to draw inspiration from it. For those interested in exploring more about iconic designs and innovation, you might also enjoy diving into Stay Casino login. It's where design meets excitement!

A Very Brief History of the Bauhaus

In 1919, Germany was emerging from the aftermath of World War I, ripe for renewal and change. It was in this climate that the Bauhaus School of Architecture and Design opened its doors in the city of Weimar. Founded by architect Walter Gropius, the school was based on the radical idea of combining art and industry.

Crafts and arts were studied in perfect balance, in line with the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (unity of art). The school aimed to produce universal masters capable of adapting artistic ideas in a non-standard but rational way. Gropius sought to initiate a new era in architecture and interior design, rejecting traditions and embracing innovative approaches from scratch.

The Bauhaus experimented with materials like reinforced concrete, glass, steel, and wood to create practical and affordable products. In architecture, the emphasis was on the rational use of space, employing simple geometric shapes, smooth surfaces, and glass facades.

However, like all things new and revolutionary, the Bauhaus faced opposition. The rise of the Nazi regime in 1933 led to the school's closure as it did not align with their ideology. Despite this setback, Bauhaus ideas continued to flourish as its students and professors dispersed into exile.

Walter Gropius continued to advocate for Bauhaus principles, teaching at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Meanwhile, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, a professor of design and composition, established the New Bauhaus in Chicago, shifting focus to explore new technologies and photography. The modernized concept of Bauhaus quickly spread through artistic communities in the United States, supplanting traditional styles.

Many Bauhaus exiles emigrated to Israel, contributing significantly to the architecture of Tel Aviv. The city boasts over 4000 Bauhaus-style buildings, the largest collection of Bauhaus-inspired architecture outside of Germany.

Although the Bauhaus only lasted 14 years, its impact was revolutionary. It positioned Germany as the ideological center of modernism and spurred the development of minimalism and functionalism.

Basic Principles of the Bauhaus

Walter Gropius' concept was built on five pillars:

1. The Marriage of Art and Industry

The Bauhaus aimed to bridge the gap between artistry and mass production. Designer goods, previously exclusive to the elite, were to become accessible to everyone. Innovations such as synthetic fibers, bakelite (an early plastic), the popularization of glass, photomontage techniques, and advancements in steel welding facilitated the creation of aesthetically pleasing, functional, and affordable products.

CASE STUDY: One of the most iconic Bauhaus designs is the Wassily chair, named in honor of Wassily Kandinsky. Designed by Marcel Breuer, it drew inspiration from bicycle frames, combining hollow steel tubes with leather to create a lightweight chair ideal for mass production.

2. Maximum Simplification

Bauhaus proponents pioneered a new trend in art by eschewing decorative excess. The focus on clean lines and geometric shapes laid the groundwork for minimalism. By eliminating unnecessary details, Bauhaus aimed to popularize artistic products in an industrial society.

CASE IN POINT: In 1923, German sculptor Josef Hartwig reimagined chess set pieces, stripping them of symbolic shapes and reducing each piece to its essential movement pattern. For instance, the Bishop was represented as an 'X,' reflecting its diagonal movement.

3. Rejection of Hierarchy and Symmetry

Bauhaus challenged traditional rules of composition. Gropius advocated for equal weighting of all elements based on their function, even if it meant departing from symmetrical forms.

CASE STUDY: The Bauhaus reached its pinnacle in 1925 with its move to Dessau into a building designed by Walter Gropius. The structure epitomized Bauhaus ideals: correct geometric shapes, asymmetrical composition, and a deliberate sacrifice of symmetry for functionality.

4. Pure Functionality

"Form follows function" became the Bauhaus mantra. Bauhaus designs prioritized utility over ornamentation. Every object's appearance was dictated by its intended function, eschewing unnecessary embellishment.

CASE STUDY: The Bauhaus Lamp, designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld, exemplifies functional design. With its clear geometric contours, the lamp remains an icon of industrial design, produced in various iterations to this day.

5. Complex Relationship with Color

Bauhaus explored the interplay between color, form, and emotion. Johannes Itten and Wassily Kandinsky, Bauhaus professors, studied color theory, experimenting with combinations that evoke specific emotions.

Using Itten's color circle, designers could create harmonious color schemes: complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel), analogous colors (adjacent hues), or triadic colors (forming an equilateral triangle on the color wheel).

CASE STUDY: Architect Peter Keler applied Bauhaus color theory in his design of a baby cradle, integrating minimalist design with Kandinsky's color principles. The cradle featured brightly colored elements—circle, triangle, and rectangle—embodying balance and visual appeal.

The Bauhaus Today

Although the original Bauhaus closed in 1933, its influence on design, architecture, and art endures. Contemporary Bauhaus principles emphasize sustainability, digital integration, and efficient space solutions such as multifunctional and modular furniture.

Simple lines and geometric shapes define the iconic Bauhaus aesthetic, with functionality remaining a core principle. Technological advancements, mass production, digital tools, and 3D printing propel Bauhaus principles into the 21st century. Today's Bauhaus adapts its ethos to eco-friendly practices, recycling materials, optimizing natural light, and exploring alternatives to traditional building materials.

Here are some recent examples of how Bauhaus continues to inspire:

1. Jasper Morrison reaffirms his prowess in functional design with a minimalist table clock. Featuring geometric shapes, a simple dial, and contrasting colors, Morrison's design pays homage to Bauhaus principles.

2. Naoto Fukasawa, a leading minimalist designer, introduced the "A" furniture collection—a trio for the modern home office comprising a table with a partition, a chair, and a table lamp. Ascetic yet attractive, the collection blends functionality with aesthetic harmony.

3. Fashion designer Roxanne Ilincic draws inspiration from Bauhaus luminaries like Joseph Albers and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Her collections showcase clean lines, geometric shapes, and colors from the Bauhaus palette.

4. IKEA has successfully adapted Bauhaus principles into its furniture designs—emphasizing functionality, simplicity, and affordability—to widespread acclaim.

The Bauhaus legacy continues to evolve, leaving an indelible mark on global design, architecture, and art. Its enduring influence resonates in contemporary creations that honor its foundational principles while adapting to the demands of mode

By Liliana Alvarez

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