Bauhaus Design Principles. A Paradigm Shift in art and design
Like the Impressionist movement that preceded it, the Bauhaus movement caused a paradigm shift in art and design. Revolutionary and radical for its time, the philosophy of the Bauhaus movement has left a notable legacy. Modern design is still influenced by the Bauhaus movement today and the design principles of modern graphic and industrial design can be traced back to the Bauhaus movement.
Form follows function
First founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, Gropius established the Bauhaus School in Weimar, which translates to “building house” in German. The school had a strong focus on design and practicality, where one of their basic tenets was “form follows function”. The syllabus integrated art and design theory such as colour theory, and composition with practical skills such as woodwork and glassmaking, emphasising the linkage between theory and practice. The movement dissolved the distinction between fine and applied arts, regarding both as essential components of good design. By removing the elitism associated with fine art and implementing pedagogical techniques that favoured collaboration and community rather than competition was a revolutionary concept for its time.
Clean, efficient design that can be easily reproduced
The school emphasised the importance of simple, geometric designs which could be more efficiently produced and manufactured. This was done through their building construction courses which involved a great amount of practical and hands-on work. This instilled in the students, an appreciation for clean, efficient design that can be easily reproduced. The syllabus was taught by many influential people including notable artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oskar Schlemmer.
In 1925, Gropius moved the school to Dessau and here the school entered its golden age. In this time, the architecture department was established, finally including all forms of design under the Bauhaus movement. The feature image is the Bauhaus Building designed by Walter Gropius. It was built in 1925-26.
Gropius resigned in 1928 and Hannes Meyer became the new director of the school. During this time, the school won two building projects and the school finally became profitable in 1929. Meyer and his ideological beliefs caused tension within the school and as a result many instructors were forced to resign. Meyer was fired in 1930 and was replaced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
After the move to Berlin in 1932, the school faced under-resourcing, the rise of the Nazis, and political pressure. As a result, the school was closed in 1933. After the school’s closure, its members dispersed around the world. Many went to Tel Aviv, and as a result, much of the city’s architecture was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Mies van der Rohe went on to became Director of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. While Gropius became an instructor at the Graduate School of Design under Harvard University.
The Bauhaus legacy lives on in modern design principles and its influence can be seen in everyday life. From the modern glass skyscrapers to the humble LAMY fountain pens.
Bauhaus has shaped the way we live, play, and work. Interspersed and woven into our lives, we interact and use the Bauhaus design philosophies everyday.
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