Photo: decophobia.com/prodimg/marcelbreuer-knoll-bauhaus-chaise-lounge-chair(1).jpg an obtuse angle if ever I saw one, and indeed, geometry was critical to Bauhaus thinking.
In 2019 Germany will celebrate 100 years of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus school of design, a modernist movement, began in Weimar in 1919, so immediately post WWl. It moved to Dessau in 1925, and in 1933 the NAZI regime forced it to close, citing that it was an enclave of communism. It lasted fourteen years in Germany, then as the NAZIs forced it to close the leaders of the movement took their ideas to other countries. Its influence has continued to the very moment, finding expression in art, design and architecture all over the world.
Bauhaus translated means house construction, so it was The House of Construction. As a movement it completely transformed art, design and architecture. It was an attempt to reunite art and manufacturing, to reintroduce in manufacturing and construction an aesthetic, a form married to art, and quality. It was an arts and craft approach. Their belief was “Less is more.” Those who joined were known as – Master of Form.
There are three identifiable principles in Bauhaus:
- As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said “Honesty to construction, death to decoration.” Form follows function is rule one.
- Typography was important: Bauhaus was instrumental in changing typography thinking – they used simple clean and lean sans serif fonts, they began to use text wrapping around objects, using text vertically and diagonally as well as horizontally. Words simply and clearly put communicate meaning.
- Geometry is supreme: simple geometry was the order of Bauhaus achieving a minimalist style. Hence the chair in the photo above.
Bauhaus boasted a collective whose names are now famous: Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Joseph Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius (the founder), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer (whose designed the chair as shown above), Carl Fieger, Anni Albers, Johannes Itten, and Herbert Bayer. Student Eliot Noyes went on to develop the corporate identity of IBM. Some 1,250 students went through the Bauhaus School and they took its principles across the world, no small feat.
What I love about Bauhaus is its freedom of thought, it wasn’t governed by executives or shareholders, it wasn’t sponsored by governments, it initially had no commercial traction (that came later), the movers and shakers of Bauhaus were simply committed to their craft and its form. I think that’s why it became popular later on, they had integrity and they stuck with what they believed even when they were all separated by the events in Germany. Even the National Socialists couldn’t stop them.
Life, I think, is about experiencing as much as we can in the time we have, and making our contribution too. But at our core I also think that one of the keys to success is staying true to self and staying the course on what is key for us, going the distance, that’s my angle, but its not obtuse! It can be powerful to live what you believe.
Paul Klee’s painting: “Castle and Sun”
the tree is tangled weed and vine overrun it but the buds will bloom ©Paul Cannon