design history July 6, 2019

Bauhaus: how it changed design’s history forever

This year marks the 100 anniversary of one of the most influential design institutions in the world, the Bauhaus.
Thanks to it, designers all over the world take inspiration from the school’s motto, vision, and syllabus.
But unlike other bad war-related outcomes, the Bauhaus design school was revolutionary and a step towards the future.

Bauhaus’ history

The Bauhaus’ school was formally founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919.
Walter Gropius – a German architect – was the director appointed.
Gropius sought to unite all of the creative disciplines into one single institution – therefore calling it the building house – and to implement a curriculum with a greater focus on construction.
Consequently, when the school opened, students had a preliminary, first-year foundation course, after which they had to take mandatory workshops. The goal was for the apprentices to learn from the masters at least, one craft discipline that they could practice later on.
As for the preliminary course. Johannes Itten was the first in charge of it. He taught first-year students the basic principles of composition and color theory, disciplines that became fundamental subjects in design courses around the world.

Bauhaus’ history: from 1923 to 1926

In 1923, Gropius wanted to pursue a more technology-driven direction in the school.
So instead of continuing to focus on individual creative development, as Itten did, the new teachers were showing students how to meet design requirements for factories’ mass production.
As a result, the Bauhaus’ products were now functional and utilitarian.
At the same time, graphic design was seen as very progressive, by using sans serif typography to create modern graphics.
Despite this new direction, the previous socialist direction had attracted political opposition, and the school moved to another city.

In 1926, the new Dessau’s building, designed by Gropius was the very own representation of “form follows function” motto. It marked the end of the school’s craft-workshop begging and introduced the technology’s and industrialized production recognition.

Bauhaus’ history: from 1926 to 1933

The Bauhaus’ position changed completely. It adopted a functionalism attitude from that point on.
In 1928, Gropius stepped down and appointed Hannes Meyer as the new director. Meyer, unlike his predecessor, was publicly an avid communist, which transformed the Bauhaus into a very politicized school.

As an attempted to contradict political movements, in 1930, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe took Meyer’s place. Since Ludwig was an architect, under his guidance, architecture took a bigger role in the school’s syllabus, and the workshops remained only as a mean to create mass production products.

In 1931, National Socialists gained power in Dessau and voted for Bauhaus’ closure.
Two years later, Gestapo closed it by force. This marked the end of a 14 years old institution that forever changed the Design world.

Bauhaus’ today

Even though the school closed in the ’30s, in 1994, the German Federal Government founded the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau.
This foundation aims to conserve the cultural heritage of the original institution, protected by UNESCO since 1996.

Celebrating 100 years

To mark Bauhaus’ centenary, there will be activities all over Germany until the end of the year. Talks, exhibitions, and installations will show how Bauhaus shaped Design as we know it.

Conclusion

For 14 years, Bauhaus influenced many students, and shape them into becoming great designers, not only in Germany but worldwide.
To this day, teachers, professionals, and companies draw inspiration from this institution and continue its legacy.
From type to color and even illustration, Bauhaus is still present in today’s work and will remain as a reference.

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