Bauhaus 1919 - 1933

Updated: Jun 19

Locations


Weimar 1919 - 1925

Dessau 1925 - 1932

Berlin 1932 - 1933


Typical Bauhaus style typography and design

The 21st Century World that we all live and work in has been designed and created from architectural ideals and design aesthetics that we have all become familiar with, Indeed the capitalist consumerist world led by the advertising industry has an origin that stems back to a school that was founded in 1919 for the purpose of re creating and re designing a world recovering from the first World War.


The Bauhaus School was formed by Walter Gropius in a time of turmoil for many countries, recovering from mass destruction and suffering from the First World War. Its base was in Weimar, the cultural capital of Germany. His vision and objective for the school was to re imagine and re invent the material world through many aspects, art, design, theatre and architecture. He brought together many visual artists and encouraged them to experiment and play with new concepts of expression and creativity without pre conceived ideas and avoiding past rules and constraints.


In the formative years, visual arts was more emphasized in the School through notable artists such as Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky and Joseph Albers. In 1925, an increasingly right wing Government in Weimar curtailed the funding of the Bauhaus, and with increasing criticism, the school moved to a new home in Dessau, 100 Km north, where the local mayor was far more sympathetic to he Bauhaus movement. The building was wholly designed by Walter Gropius in 1 year and was influenced by the local fledgling industry of aviation.


The Bauhaus School in Dessau, Germany, showing its glass curtain wall

The building itself contained many features that are common today in modern architectural design, including a glass curtain wall and a steel framed construction, it has been viewed as a building that the International Style of architecture came of age. Within its walls, it contained classrooms, a theatre, dormitories, lecture halls and art rooms for artistic expression and experimentation. However with such new building techniques came problems, most notably in the winter the building was very cold and in summer the glass acted as a greenhouse and caused the rooms to become very hot, alterations were made to allow the building to be comfortable enough to live and work in.


The Bauhaus's schools productivity can be divided up into the following main areas, Furniture, Textiles, Metalwork and Typography. Architecture only developed more of an emphasis in the school under the leadership of Mies Van Der Rohe in its later years .


There are many furniture pieces that are very recognizable today that have their origins in the Bauhaus Design school which can be seen in many offices and homes today.


The Breuer Cane Cesca Chair
The Barcelona Chair by Mies Van der Rohe
The Wassily Chair - Model B3 - Marcel Breuer

Leadership


There were a number of leadership changes in the late 1920's, these happened in the Dessau years, Gropius approached Hannes Meyer to run the architecture programme, Gropius then stepped down and Meyer became director of the school, Meyer was a force for good for the schools profitability, taking some significant building commissions due to his like of economical designs which proved attractive to clients.


But Meyer also caused conflict within the school, his political persuasion was far more left wing and Communist and caused resignations of a number of notable instructors including Herbert Bayer and Marcel Breuer. In 1930, Dessau's mayor was concerned that the Bauhaus schools leadership was becoming far too politicized, opposite to the countries current climate so Meyer was fired in the summer of that year.


The Bauhaus Schools new director became Mies Van Der Rohe in 1930, shortly after the Nazi Party took control of Dessau city council, so the school moved again to another site in Berlin.


The last year of the schools operation was for obvious reasons a time of much turmoil and conflict, its production of work was limited and the school was finally closed on the 11th April 1933.


It is quite possible to argue that the schools ending in this way was a favorable move for the world of design as a number of its most influential tutors and pupils were scattered across the globe, spreading Bauhaus design ideas that have shaped our world today.


Walter Gropius moved to London and then onward to the USA, and Mies van der Rohe moved to Chicago and became director of architecture in the Illinois school of technology.

© 2017 Alec Boreham