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the crystal palace to the Bauhaus


Pertinent facts


Introduction7 The Crystal Palace Henry Cole and Prince Albert


The proposal of the exhibition


The Planning of the exhibition


Joseph Paxton and his greenhouse


The design of the Crystal Palace


Construction of the Crystal Palace


Owen Jones and his Color Theories


The Industrial Revolution


The Exhibition


From the Crystal Palace to the Bauhaus Victorian Style


The Eiffel Tower


William Morris


Art Nouveau Style


The Deutscher Werkbund


Peter Behrens


Walter Gropius 


The Bauhaus


Conclusion39 Bibiliography40 Image Source



Henry Cole English civil servant and inventor, supported many innovations in commerce and education in the 19th century. Proposed the idea of the Great Exhibition to the Queen Prince Albert Supporter, planner and organizer of the Great Exhibiton Joseph Paxton Designer of the Crystal Palace, applied concepts of linear, modular and prefabricate Owen Jones Interior designer of the Crystal Palace, first applied the primary color to interior design The Industrial Revolution begun in England around 1760, provided technology support to the building of the Crystal Palace Victorian Style Picturesque mood, complicated ornaments and curvilinear The Eiffel Tower another modernist pre-fabricated consturction built after the Crystal Palace William Morris Leader of the Art and Crafts movement, had stronge connection with the meddile age style, anti-industry Art Nouveau Style a transition between traditional style and moder style, applied very organic and complicated ornaments The Deutscher Werkbund a industrial design association aimed to reformed the German design Peter Behrens important member of the Deutscher Werkbunk, designer of the AEG Turbine factory Walter Gropius important member of the Deutscher Werkbunk, founder of the Bauhaus school The Bauhaus an art school aimed to unite artist and craftsman, detach from the past and designed for the future



“It is a wonderful place—vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things… It seems as if only magic could have gathered this mass of wealth from all the ends of the earth—as if none but supernatural hands could have arranged it this” —Charlotte Bront

Joseph Paxton and built at Hyde Park in Central London. It was a showcase for mainly British inventions, manufacturers, arts and housewares. New terms of architectural language such as “Modular”, “Grid” and “linear” were invented; innovative constructing method, “prefabricated” was implied, and yet the impact of the Great Exhibition was underestimated at the time. The Great Exhibition was the herald of a new age and a farewell to the past. With its never-before-seen prefabricated building, it delivered a message and question to the world, especially artists—what does the Industrial Revolution hold for the future?

The British writer Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) mentioned the Great Exhibition in a letter to express her excitement after visiting the exhibition.

The questions had been hanging in the air for more than a generation. And finally the answer was given in Germany, by the Bauhaus with one of its principles— “architect or designer should be offered no refuge in the past but should be equipped for the modern world in its various aspects, artistic, technical, social, economic, spiritual...”

In 1851, the Great Exhibition (full title as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations) was presented to the world by England. The exhibition ran from May 1st to October 15th in a specially constructed massive glass house, the Crystal Palace, designed by

In 1851, Modernism was at the corner.

7-1. Color illustration of the Great Exhibition from the British Library 7

8-1. Color illustration of the Great Exhibition from the British Library



The Great Exhibition of 1851 was opened by Queen Victoria on the first of May. One hundred thousand exhibits were contributed by 15,000 participants. This first global exhibition of manufactured products was extremely successful and attracted more than six million visitors, a third of the population of Great Britain at the time. A vast profit of £186,000 was made during the exhibition, and the profits were used to fund several science and art initiatives.

In 1849, Cole visited the 11th Quinquennial Paris Exhibition and noticed the lack of an exhibition open to international participants. He decided to adapt the RSA’s annual Exhibition of Art Manufactures into a larger international exhibition—an exhibition as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. He secured the backing of Queen Victoria and established the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to manage the exhibition, under the Presidency of Prince Albert, the queen’s husband.

The Great Exhibition had come a long way to succeed. From the time that the idea was proposed to the completion of the construction, many problems were overcome within the required time and budget.

This was certainly a great opportunity for Prince Albert, who was born in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-CoburgSaalfeld (located in the present German) and grew up in a family connected to many of Europe’s ruling monarchs. At the age of 20 he married his first cousin, Queen Victoria. Being in the position as the Consort of the Queen, Albert at first felt constrained. As an intelligent and well-educated young man, he wasn’t given any power or duties. Then later he took on the responsibilities of running the Queen’s household, estates and office. He also adopted many public causes, such as educational reform. In 1847, Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. He used his position as Chancellor to reform and modernize the university curricula. For example, he expanded the subjects taught beyond the traditional mathematics and classics, and included modern history and the natural sciences.

Henry Cole and Prince Albert

The Great Exhibition was organized by Henry Cole (1808–1882) and Prince Albert (1819–1861), along with the members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Sir Henry Cole was an English civil servant and inventor who supported many innovations in commerce and education in the 19th century. He was credited for the concept of sending greeting cards at Christmas time. The world’s first commercial Christmas card in 1843 was his idea. With the backing of the reigning monarch, Henry Cole founded the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in 1847. The RSA organised the Exhibition of Art Manufactures in 1847, with two more following in 1848 and 1849.

Besides his progressive and relatively liberal ideas, Albert also had a special interest in applying science and art to the manufacturing industry. He’d been a secure backing for Henry Cole and the RSA, supporting their campaigns to improve standards in industrial design. As President of the RSA, the annual exhibitions promoted by him were quite successful.Certainly,it was not a surprise that the Prince Albert was appointed President of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

“Art Manufacture” referred to the concept proposed by Cole—“fine art or beauty applied to mechanical production”. It would be the very first idea of “industrial design”.


10-1. Photograph of the interior of Paxton’s 1851 Crystal Palace at Hyde Park


The proposal of the exhibitio

As the President of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Prince Albert had to fight for every stage of the project.Although his proposal was strongly supported by the mainstream media, such as The Times, opponents of the exhibition prophesied that the foreign rogues and revolutionists would overrun England,and destroy the morals and faith of the people. Opponents of the exhibition prophesied that the foreign rogues and revolutionists would overrun England, destroy the morals of the people, and their faith.

buildings, but were rejected because of the expense. The Building Committee attempted a design of its own, a brick building with a sheet-iron dome, which was widely criticized and ridiculed when it was published in the newspapers. Finally this issue caught the attention of the gardener and greenhouse designer, Joseph Paxton (1803–1865), who became interested in this project. With the backing of Henry Cole, he began to form and submit his own design.

Albert thought such talk absurd and believed that Great Britain needed to provide the world with the hope of a better future, after Europe had just struggled through two difficult decades of political and social upheaval. He also trusted that British manufacturing would benefit from exposure to the best products of foreign countries countries, being concerned... concerned that Britain lacked training in the fields of art and industry. Therefore, confronting opposition, Prince Albert quietly persevered and focused on the planning of the exhibition itself. The Planning of the exhibition

The decision was made that the entire project would be funded by public subscription. Tthe construction of the exhibition building had to meet several key requirements—The building had to be temporary, simple, as economic as possible, and had to be built within the short time remaining before the Exhibition opening date, which had been scheduled for May 1st, 1851. An executive Building Committee was quickly formed to oversee the design and construction of the exhibition building. In March 1850 an international competition for the design of the exhibition building was launched. Within three weeks, 245 designs were received, out of which two were picked by the judges. Both were to be iron and glass

11-1. Hand-coloured daguerreotype of Prince Albert in 1848. photo by William Edward Kilburn (1818-91)


12-1, Great Conservatory, Chatsworth, demolished, c.1920


Joseph Paxton and his greenhouse

Sir Joseph Paxton was appointed Head Gardener for the 6th Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, East Midlands region of England, when he was only 20 years old. In 1832, Paxton developed an interest in greenhouses at Chatsworth when he designed a series of buildings with “forcing frames”, wooden or metallic structure with glass or plastic to let light go through. At that time the using of glass houses was a new idea. After some experimentation, Paxton designed a “ridge and furrow” roof that would be at right angles to the morning and evening sun and admit maximum light—a prototype of modern greenhouse. In 1837, Paxton began the constructi of the Great Conservatory—a prototype of the Crystal Palace.

principle—The rigidity can be provided by the radiating ribs connecting with flexible cross-ribs. After a number of years experimentation, he devised his perfect glasshouse. With confidence, Paxton started his adventurous journey—design the Crystal Palace.

The Great Conservatory was a huge glasshouse, 227 feet long and 123 feet wide. The columns and beams were made of cast-iron, and the arched elements were made of laminated wood. With the ridge-and-furrow roof, the building could let in more light and drain rainwater away. Paxton used hollow pillars to double the drain pipes for releasing the greenhouse from the burden of itself and of the rainwater. He also designed a special rafter that acted as an internal and external gutter. All of these elements were prefabricated and could be produced in vast numbers and assembled together—a prototype concept of modular buildings. The other important inspiration that led Paxon to a successful Crystal palace was due to some seeds from the Amazon rainforest in South America, South America. Seeds of the Victoria amazonica, the largest of the water lily family, were sent to Paxton to plant at Chatsworth. Within two months the leaves were four and a half feet in diameter. They continued growing and the Victoria Regia House was then built for housing it. The leaf of the waterlily then was able to float Paxton’s daughter by holding her up on itself. Paxton was Inspired by the natural feat of engineering and discovered a structure

13-1, The Gigantic Waterlily, At Chatsworth. Unknown (Illustrated London News), November 17th, 1849.


14-1. Partial front (left) and rear (right) elevations of the Crystal Palace.


The design the Crystal Palace

On June 11th 1850, Paxton sketched his first thoughts for the exhibition building: a side elevation and cross section. The next eight days he spent, drawing up his ideas. The drawing included all the basic elements of the building, and within two weeks all calculations and detailed plans were submitted to the Building Commission. Impressed by the low cost proposal, the committee accepted Paxton’s innovative design and it was published in the Illustrated London News on July 6th 1850. The design immediately gained public support. The key difference of his glass and iron structure was that it was made from prefabricated sections and could therefore be erected very quickly. Prefabrication is the practice of assembling components of a structure in another manufacturing site, and transporting the finished assemblies or sub-assemblies to the construction site where the structure is to be located. In the case of the Crystal Palace, the cast-irons were made in Dudley, and over 300,000 glass sheets were produced in Birmingham. Through the well-developed railway system, these materials were shipped to London.

15-1. First sketch for the Great Exhibition Building by Sir Joseph Paxton

time. They were produced by the Chance Brothers of Birmingham, who also supplied the glass sheet to the Great Conservatory. Almost the whole outer surface

Paxton’s Crystal Palace covered almost 19 acres of the Hyde Park in Central London, the structure measuring 1,848 feet (about 563 metres) long by 454 feet (about 138 metres) wide and an interior height of 128 feet (39m). The large flat-roofed rectangular building was built with a great open gallery running along the main axis and the wings extending down either side. The main

could be glazed by millions of glass sheets, therefore the production cost and the time needed to install them were greatly reduced. The modular system of the building consisted of rightangled triangles, mirrored and multiplied, supported by

exhibition space was two stories high, with the upper

a grid of cast iron beams and pillars. Each module was

floor stepped in from the boundary. Most of the building

self-supporting, so Paxton was able to leave out modules

had a flat-profile roof, except for the central barrel

in some areas, creating larger square or rectangular spaces

vaulted transept. The barrel vaulted transept was added

within the building to accommodate larger exhibits. On

later to the original design, for accommodating some

the lower level these larger spaces were covered by the

trees inside of the building.

floor above. And on the upper level, spaces were cover by longer spans of roofing. By being multiplied into a grid,

The building was based on a 10 inches by 49 inches

these basic units were extended to an incredible length

module, the size of the largest glass sheet available at the


16-1. Building the Crystal Palace—a look of the grid


of 564 meters, giving people an impressive linear style.

modular unit was self supporting, allowing the workers freedom in assembling the pieces.

The modules were extremely light, yet strong enough to be stacked vertically, enabling Paxton to add an

Thanks to the simplicity of Paxton’s design and the combined efficiency of the building contractor and their suppliers, the entire structure was assembled with extraordinary speed. And the colossal construction was complete and ready to receive exhibits in just five months.

upper floor that nearly doubled the amount of available exhibition space. This modular concept was benefited by the structure principle that had been influenced by the natural feat of engineering—The huge ribbed floating

The construction was completed, and it was time for adding some flavor—The job of interior design was given to Owen Jones.

leaves of the waterlilies. Paxton’s modular, hierarchical linear design incorporated many breakthroughs, offered practical advantages that no conventional building could match. It was a classic example of the concept of Form Follows Function—a concept with a principle that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. This concept was associated with modern architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. And yet it was applied in the construction of the Crystal Palace, more than half century ahead of its time. Construction of the Crystal Palace

After the permission was given by the Building Committee, Paxton had only 8 months for construction. It began in August 1850, following a period of fundraising. The engineering firm Fox, Henderson and Co took possession of the site in July 1850 and built up wooden hoarding, which would later become the floorboards of the finished building. More than 5000 navvies (short form of navigational engineer) worked on the building during its construction. During the peak building period, up to 2000 were working on site at one time. First, the stakes were driven into the ground to mark the position for the cast iron columns. Then the concrete foundations were poured. Once the foundations were in place, the erection of the modules could be proceeded rapidly. More than 1000 iron columns and 84,000 square meters of glass were shipped to London, and over 18,000 panes of glass sheets were installed per week. Every

17-1. Raising the ribs of the transept roof. 17

18-1. Color rendering of the interior of Paxton’s 1851 Crystal Palace at Hyde Park


Owen Jones and his Color Theories

Owen Jones (1809–1874) was a versatile English born Welsh architect and designer. He helped pioneer modern color theory. And his theories on flat patterning and ornament is still applied by contemporary designers today. Jones was employed as one of the superintendents of works for the Great Exhibition. He was responsible for not only the interior design, but also for the arrangement of the exhibits within. Based on his observations of primary colour painting within the architecture of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Alhambra of Granada (located in Spain), he chose a vibrant colour scheme using only simple and primary colors—red, yellow and blue for the interior ironwork. But color theories were relatively new at that time. And his color scheme caused much debate, prompting him to defend his views in a lecture before the Institute of British Architects. Jones argued for his belief that during all great periods of art only the primary colours were used.Through the lecture, the color theories were widely acknowledged. And his plan was accepted without any modification.

Jenny was generally considered to be one of the innovations that started the Industrial Revolution. A multi-spindle spinning frame, it was invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves in England and was a symbol of the beginning of the machine era. The Industrial Revolution was the transition from hand production methods to new manufacturing processes. The developments during this period included, for the matter of the issued Great Exhibition, steam power, iron production, glass making, machine tools and the transportation system. A new method of producing glass, known as the cylinder process, was developed in Europe during the early 19th century. In 1832, this process was used by the Chance Brothers to create sheet glass. And then the cast plate glass method was invented in 1848, which allowed for large sheets of inexpensive but strong glass. They became the leading producers of window and plate glass. This advancement allowed for larger panes of glass to be created without interruption. This innovation freed the space planning in interiors and did not require interior lights. A major change in the metal industries during the era of the Industrial Revolution was the replacement of wood and other bio-fuels with coal. After the experimentation of many people, cast iron became less expensive and more plentiful and was utilized as a structural material. The development of machine tools allowed better working of iron, causing it to be increasingly used in the rapidly growing machinery and engine industries.

Large appliqué hangings were also used in the upper levels as a simple and inexpensive form of bold decoration. The interior design of the Crystal Palace went on to become much admired. Jones himself became one of the most influential design theorists of the 19th century. The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution improved Britain’s transport infrastructure with a turnpike road network, a canal and waterway network, and a railway network. Raw materials and finished products could be moved more quickly and cheaply than before.

Finishing such a great construction in only five months seemed like magic, as writer Charlotte Bronte had commented in one of her letters. And in fact, the Industrial Revolution was that very magic and supernatural force that gathered the mass of wealth from all nations and arranged it in the Crystal Palace.

Being conducted by Joseph Paxton and the members of the Royal Commission of the Exhibition of 1851, with the help of the magical industrial innovations, the Great Exhibition was ready for its audiences

Within a few decades, the Revolution that had begun in England around 1760 had spread to western Europe and the United States. The invention of the Spinning


20-1. The opening of the Great Exhibition 1851, Eugène Louis Lami (1800-90)


The Exhibition

The opening ceremony of Crystal Palace was an incredibly grand affair, with more than 25,000 people in attendance. Queen Victoria, who opened the exhibition, later wrote in her diary:

tubes trying to help deaf to hear; some “tangible ink” producing raised characters on paper for the blind… In short, as the Queen put it in her Diary, ‘every conceivable invention’.

“This day is one of the greatest and most glorious of our lives… It is a day which makes my heart swell with thankfulness… before we neared the Crystal Palace, the sun shone and gleamed upon the gigantic edifice, upon which the flags of every nation were flying… The sight as we came to the centre… was magic and impressive. The tremendous cheering, the joy expressed in every face, the vastness of the building, with all its decoration and exhibits, the sound of the organ… all this was indeed moving”

The exhibits were divided into four main categories— Raw Materials, Machinery, Manufactures and Fine Arts. Though it was an exhibition of the works of industry, exhibits on art manufacture took just the same weight as the industrial manufacture. Significantly, photography appeared in the art section in the exhibition. It was the first time that photography was valued as much as sculptures and paintings. It was said that Prince Albert himself had a dark room for producing photos. Being promoted in the Great Exhibition, photography became another visual language, together with painting. Painting was then set free from realistics and developed to various styles.

Queen Victoria and her family visited the Great Exhibition three times. It was a platform on which countries from around the world could display their achievements. Nevertheless, Great Britain tried to prove its own superiority and to demonstrate that the technology, particularly its own, was the key to a better future.

In the middle of the exhibition, stood the famous fountain which was made of four tons of pink glass, 27 feet high. The fountain provided a useful meeting place, as well as cooling the atmosphere. There was a police desk for lost children and umbrellas. No alcohol was sold, but light refreshments were available in various areas in the building. And for the first time ever, ‘waiting rooms and conveniences’ were provided. Five days before the exhibition had its great opening, official catalogues of the exhibition were printed and ready for visitors. These thick catalogues, illustrated with steel engravings became a primary source of High Victorian design.

Paxton’s ingenious design created an unprecedented exhibition space. The construction, acting as a selfsupporting shell, maximized interior space, and the glass cover enabled daylight. The method of construction was a breakthrough in technology and design, and paved the way for more sophisticated fabricated design. Six million people came to see more than 15,000 exhibitors, displaying all types of craft and manufacture: Paintings, sculptures, tiles, machinery, textiles, and food produce.

One of the organisers, Henry Cole, was a civil servant who facilitated many innovations in commerce. He knew how to promote the exhibition as a commerce and serve the visitors as customers, providing an opportunity for an enjoyable and positive experience.

Britain occupied half the display space with exhibits from the home country and the Empire. There were printing presses, textile machines, agricultural machines and examples of every kind of steam engine, including the giant railway locomotives. Some other interesting innovations included a printing machine that could print and fold envelopes; folding pianos could be easily moved around; a pulpit connecting to bench with rubber

The Great Exhibition closed on October 11th, 1851. And the £186,000 profit was used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.


22-1. Hardware at the Great Exhibition by Joseph Nash (1809-1878)

22-2. Victorian style chair from the Great Exhibition, 1851 by London Printing and Publish company 22


The Great Exhibition and its gigantic Crystal Palace Victorian designers had been had been embellishing wowed the world, but it’s impact was underestimated. The objects with motifs from Greek, Roman and Gothic Crystal Palace was an anomaly at that time; a time when styles. Architecture grew in scale as well, termed as style and taste were dominated mainly by the Victorian “Ostentatious.” Victorian picturesque influence on design Style. was still obvious--a chair with an outline of a violin, a clock in a shape of a Gothic church with many pointed Victorian Style roofs, a bedstead built between columns with small sculpture on them, etc. Although Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837, the style of architecture and decorative arts that called Victorian But Victorians were in a situation of dilemma—they lived Style actually began in the second decade of the 19th in a brand new Machine Age when machines could not century. It spread from England to much of Europe and satisfy their Victorian taste. Those machines could not America until 1900. make organic or linear decorative products. They were facing a question—should they clothe their products in Before the Crystal Palace was presented, the Victorian an historic costume, or should they forge a new style for Architecture had fallen under the wave of the Gothic machine-made products? Revival, an expression of the Picturesque mode. The term “picturesque” refers to beautiful and the sublime, which Those exhibits at the Crystal Palace showed that most was a part of the Romantic sensibility of the 18th century, of them selected the former by following the esthetic of with the aesthetic and cultural connection of Gothic and the Picturesque, turning to past styles and to nature as a Celticism. The landscape of Middle Age were recreated in source for forms. And the idea that Henry Cole proposed England with those irregular silhouetted public buildings in 1849—“fine art or beauty applied to mechanical such as the House of Parliament, designed by Sir Charles production” seemed to have failed. The Exhibition Barry (1830–1880). Barry, among with other Victorian proved that the new machine-made goods were inferior narchitects adorned the pointed skyscraper Gothic towers to handcrafted ones. It gave people an impression that the and facades with Celtic shamrock-shape to evoke longing problem was in the machine-production process, rather for the past. than in how the process was used. No wonder that the Crystal Palace appeared to most Victorians to be “styleless”, not having any Greek columns or gothic arches. The geometric form, the machine-like repetition of modules and the hard, glittering glass walls were not recognized as art by them. Nor could they understand the development of design that would evolve in the coming century following the erection of the Crystal Palace—“The machine as the molder of style, technology as the source of new building materials and the non-architect as architectural innovator.” Therefore, it was not surprising that many of the exhibits that filled the Crystal Palace were of Victorian style. Exhibits ranging from furniture, houseware and textiles were decorated with organic, curvilinear forms.


Since the architects and designers of the Victorian era did not embrace what the Industrial Revolution had brought them. they automatically gave away the path approaching Modernism to the engineers.

24-1. Passing under the Eiffel Tower for Construction at Champ de Mars

24-2. Building process of the Eiffel Tower 24

The Eiffel Tower

38 years after the Great Exhibition, the Exposition Universelle of 1889 was presented in Paris with its main symbol—the Eiffel Tower, serving as the entrance arch to the exhibition.

On March 30th, 1885 Eiffel presented a paper on the project to the Société des Ingiénieurs Civils. After discussing the technical problems and emphasising the practical uses of the tower, he finished his paper with an enthusiastic declaration that the tower will symbolised “not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.”

France had been a competitor to England. And do not forget that Henry Cole’s idea about the Great Exhibition was inspired by the 11th Quinquennial Paris Exhibition. After the success of the Great Exhibition, France must had been hunkering down for many years for another show-off opportunity. The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was successfully done. And the Eiffel Tower became another icon of Modernism after the Crystal Palace.

However, Parisian were outraged when Eiffel’s iron hatpin began to rise—taller than the tallest building in the world—in the middle of Paris. A “Committee of Three Hundred”, including architects and some important figures of the French arts establishment, was formed to protest the building of the Eiffel Tower. A petition was given to the government to demolish the tower. The poet Paul Verlaine swore never to visit the Place d’Etoile again. And the English designer William Morris, who led the Arts and Crafts Movement, insisted on staying as near to its base as possible—in order to avoid seeing it.

The Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower shared several similarities. First of all, they were both never-before-seen and built with prefabricated application. Ironically, they were both planned by person who did not have classical architectural training and received negative critiques during and after their construction. The Eiffel Tower was originally designed by a Swiss structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin (1856–1946) and Émile Nouguier (1840–1898), a French civil engineer. In 1884, they made an outline drawing of their scheme, described as “a great pylon, consisting of four lattice girders standing apart at the base and coming together at the top, joined together by metal trusses at regular intervals”. Then the two engineers asked Stephen Sauvestre (1847–1919), a French architect, to add architectural embellishments. Sauvestre added the decorative arches to the base, a glass pavilion to the first level and the cupola at the top. Then another engineer, Gustave Eiffel (1832–1923), bought the design in 1885. Gustave Eiffel had initial training as an engineer. Before the Eiffel Tower, he had built a cast-iron bridge at Garabit, France; a wrought iron bridge crossing the river Douro at height of 200 feet above the river in Portugal; and the iron skeleton for Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty in New York.


Eiffel was unworried. He handled iron in a modern manner like Paxton did, pre-fabricating 7,000 tons of girders, even prepunching the holes for rivets. The construction involved only 300 on-site employees, all unskilled workers, to erect the 1,063-foot-high tower. Started on July 1887, the Eiffel Tower was finished on March 1889. It was an immediate success with the public, and lengthy queues formed to make the ascent. Tickets cost 2 francs for the first level, 3 for the second, and 5 for the top, with half-price admission on Sundays, and by the end of the exhibition there had been nearly two million visitors.

26-1. Detail from a season ticket for The Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, by Walter Crane, England, UK, 1890.


After the Eiffel Tower, the next building of Modernism with the equivalent impact as the Crystal Palace, would be the AEG Turbine Factory that was designed by German architect Peter Behrens in 1909. There was a 20-year period between these two edifices being built. What happened during these 20 years with the modernist movement in Europe?

surfaces. Art Nouveau artists realized that whether they liked it or not, machinery, steam power and electricity would have something to say about the ornament of the future. Art Nouveau became the first commercial artist to enhance the beauty of industrial products. And this provided a stepping-stone that the Modernists would employ in the future. After 1900 the great artificial flower of Art Nouveau began to wither. Art Nouveau artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928), had already revived the square, while the other Art Nouveau artist Otto Wagner (1841–1819) from Vienna Secession revived the straight line—both paving the way for more functional design, for bridging the gap between art and industry.

William Morris

William Morris (1834–1896), the leader of the Arts and Crafts movement, was among those who had a negative impression of machine-made goods. He called for natural materials and individual expression by both designer and craftsman, and rejected the mechanized industrial system. This alternative was regressive and impractical. And ironically Morris’ work failed to conform to many of his famous doctrines. He preached socialism and declared that design could bring art to the working class, but those exquisite designs of his company and his magnificent Kelmscott books were available only to the wealthy. However, Morris’ Kelmscott Press was committed to recapturing the beauty of incunabula books and he inspired a whole new generation of book designers with his concept of the well-made book, his beautiful typeface designs based on earlier models, and his sense of design unity.

The bridge was completed in Berlin in 1907, when the Deutscher Werkbund was founded. It was the same year that Peter Behrens became artistic adviser of the AEG—a title that was never-before-heard. And two years later, the AEG Turbine factory was built. The Modernist movement finally speeded up!

Art Nouveau Style

“Floreated madness, linear hysteria, strange decorative disease, stylistic free-for-all… ” were the terms the contemporaries of Art Nouveau, used to describe his first international design style, which dated from the 1880’s to the World War I, around 1910. At the cross road between “art for art’s sake” and functional aesthetics, Art Nouveau’s style was an odd blend of art. Like the Victorian style and the Art and Crafts movement, it could not help reinterpreting the past by employing curvilinear and floral abstraction. Yet unlike them, it was willing to use new materials, machined

27-1. Art Nouneau style interior


28-1. Posters for Expo Deutscher Werkbund, Coeln, Germany 1914

28-2. AEG Turbine Factory 28

The Deutscher Werkbund

In 1648, the Holy Roman Empire ended and the modern nation-state system began, with Germany being divided into numerous independent states, such as Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony. The House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. In 1871, German states united in creating the German Empire under Prussian leadership.

The Werkbund originally included 12 architectus and 12 business firms. Among the more noted members, Peter Behrens was a pioneer in many things which he had done in the first half of the 20th century and his ideas were spread around the world by his students, especially by Walter Gropius.

The last German Emperor, the Kaiser—Wilhelm II (1859–1941) was the first grandson of the British Queen Victoria and was related to many monarchs of Europe. Being the Kaiser of the German Empire and grandson of the British Queen, Wilhelm had a special interest in what was going on in England.

Peter Behrens (1868–1940) was a German architect, designer and teacher. In 1907, Behrens was summoned to Berlin by Emil Rathenau, the enlightened president of Allgemeine Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft (AEG). He was presented with the task of formulating a uniform design style for AEG, not only for its graphics, but for its buildings, interiors and products as well. Behrens became the first corporate design director. On January 31st, 1908, Behrens designed a hexagonal beehive-like trademark for AEG. This trademark was consistently applied to buildings, stationery, products and graphics.

Peter Behrens and the AEG Turbine Factory

In 1896, Wilhelm II sent Hermann Muthesius (1861– 1927) to England, as cultural attaché at the German Embassy in London. Muthesius then focused the next six years investigating the residential architecture and local lifestyle and design of England. He was seen as not only a culture ambassador, but an industrial spy between Germany and England. Muthesius returned to Germany in 1904 and published his most famous work—a three volume report as Das Englische Haus (The English House). From his report, Kaiser received an important message, that “better design equal to better profit”. Thus, an association of artists, architects, designers and industrialists was conceived.

The AEG Turbine Factory was then designed and built around 1909. The building was a facade framed by two impressive pylons and topped by a massive, sequentially angled gable. Peter Behrens looked for inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome, provided a neo-classic look building applied with modernist concept—grid, modular, and form follow function. Its was 100 meters long and 15 meters tall, with glass and steel walls on either side. The interior was spacious without any columns, allowing turbine-producing inside of it.

In 1907, Muthesius founded the Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsmen) in Munich. Its initial purpose was to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals, and to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets. Though inspired by William Morris, the Werkbund was not another version of Arts and Crafts movement. Instead, it was a state-sponsored association, aiming to integrate traditional crafts and industrial massproduction techniques. Their interests ranged from sofacushions to city-building.

The AEG Turbine Factory became an influential and well-known example of industrial architecture. And it was after a 20 year period that it joined the Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower, becoming another icon of modernism. And yet there would be more to be built soon in 1914.


30-1. Fagus shoe facotory, design by Walter Gropu, 1914


Walter Gropius and the Fagus Factory

Walter Gropius (1883–1969) became the youngest member of the Deutscher Werkbund in 1910, recommended by Peter Behrens, for whom he used to work from June 1908 to March 1910. During his time working for Peter Behrens, Gropius witnessed the construction of the AEG turbine factory.

outbreak of World War I in 1914. He was called up immediately as a reservist, serving as a sergeant major at the western front during the war years. He had been wounded several times and once nearly killed. In his four years of military service, Gropius had quickly become an officer, and discovered his organisational talent and capacity for leadership.

In 1910, he left the firm of Behrens with fellow employee Adolf Meyer (1881–1929), and established a practice in Berlin. They soon had their first independent commission given by the Fagus Factory—a shoe last factory in Alfeld, Germany. The Fagus Factory wanted a radical structure to express the company’s break from the past.

In 1918, Brand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxony-WeimarEisenach forfeited his claim to the throne on November 9th—a free state was declared with a leftist government. Soon the war ended in a few days, on November 11th. Gropius returned to Berlin after the war. He was going to take the appointment as master of the School of Arts and Crafts, a decision made before the war, only to find that the school no longer existed. Instead, he took over another school—Academy of Fine Arts, and had it operate under the name “Bauhaus”.

Gropius fulfilled their requirement with an extremely rectangle box-like glass building—absolutely flat with only straight linear. There was no connection between this building and the past. The facade of the building was conceived in glass. The supporting piers were reduced to narrow grids of brick, leaving the corners of the building without any support. The unprecedented sense of openness and continuity between inside and out made the Fagus Factory a rectangular version of Crystal Palace. The building was finished in 1914 and was not considered a premier example of architectural Modernism until during the 1920s. Gropius’s total avoidance of historicism was slowly revealed in his design. He was certainly an odd individual, not being touched at all by the Romantic influence (even Peter Behrens designed the AEG turbine factory with inspiration from Greece and Rome). And this would be how he was going to reconcile art and an industrialized society. After Gropius joined the Werkbund, he worked diligently, organising an exhibition on exemplary industrial architecture, editing the 1913 yearbook, and giving lectures. Gropius’s experience with the media at the werkbund equipped him with many of the tools that he would need in the future.

31-1. Fagus shoe factory, detail

However, Gropius’s Career was interrupted by the 31

32-1. The Bauhaus Manifesto in 1919


The Bauhaus

Das Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known as Bauhaus, literally means the “State House of construction”--stood for School of Building. Like the Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower, the Bauhaus was too much ahead of its time and received all kinds of criticism from its opponents. Leaflets were printed to call up people to demonstrate:

people who determined to learn from the collapse, and to find a new way of life, were drawn to the Bauhaus as to a magnet. The Bauhaus was not merely a school of art, it was an idea and movement, a method of education and a way of relating art to society. It emphasized the unity of artist and craftsman. It argued that there was no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman, that architects, sculptors, painters, all must return to the crafts, because art is not a “profession”. At this point, the Bauhaus shared the same principle to the Arts and Crafts movement. However, they sought for extremely different methods. The Bauhaus school attempted to train creative young people to be both artists and craftsmen and importantly, marry art and industry. Gropius was a man had no connection to the past style. There was no way that he would in any situation go back to the past style, looking for refuge.

“Men and women of Weimar! Our old and famous Art school is in danger! All citizens of Weimar to whom the

In 1851, the Great Exhibition presented the Crystal Palace with a question—what does the Industrial Revolution hold for us? William Morris saw the problem but answered it wrongly, by rejecting the industry and going back to the medieval style. Art Nouveau movement did not reject the machine, but its attitude was ambiguous. Their complicated curvilinear designs were not for the machine age either.

33-1. a public note against the fouding of the Bauhaus

abodes of our art and culture are sacred, are requested to attend a public demonstration on Thursday, January 22, 1920, at 8 p.m. —The committees, elected by the citizen...”

Gropius brought up his answer—marry art and industry. He believed that a new monumental style had to be developed by forcibly combining technical and art forms. He argued that architect or designer should take no refuge in the past but be equipped for the modern world; be a vital participant rather than a decorator.

This was how peoples of Weimar greeted the appearance of the Bauhaus. People who could not perceive the pre-war world as dead and clung to the past, regarded the Bauhaus like a red rag to a bull; however, some other


34-1. Photographs and Photogram by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

34-2. Wassily Kandinsky - Composition VIII - 1923


–The Curriculum and photography

–Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee

“Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between the craftsmen and artist. Together let us conceive and create the new building of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity”

Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely abstract works. During 19191921, he dealt with the cultural politics of Russia and collaborated in art education and museum reform. He devoted his time to artistic teaching, with a program based on form and colour analysis. But his spiritual, expressionistic view of art was rejected by the radical members of the Institute because his paintings were too individualistic. In 1921, Kandinsky was invited to go to Germany to attend the Bauhaus.

Gropius’s concept of all artists returning to the crafts was implied by a unique school curriculum. The Bauhaus brought together the various principles of arts, such as painting, architecture, theatre, photography, weaving, typography, etc., into a modern synthesis, which tore down the barrier between the “fine” and “applied” arts.

Paul Klee (1879–1940) was a Swiss painter who was influenced by expressionism, cubism and surrealism. But his visiting in Tunisia, North Africa pushed him toward abstraction. The sheer light of North Africa awakened his sense of color. During his stay, Klee gradually detached color from physical description and used it independently.

Noteworthily, it was the first time that photography was included in the courses of an art school. Invented in the first decades of the 19th century, photography seemed able to capture more detail and information than traditional media, such as painting and sculpting. And it was increasingly used as an art form itself. However, since the Great Exhibition when photography was presented to the public as a new visual language and art form, it had been excluded in traditional academic curriculum, until the founding of the Bauhaus. And yet the Bauhaus rejected anything of academic anyway, which referred to spirit of the old tradition.

The impact of photography was just another new form of visual language. It was said that an ancient Greek painteda bunch of grapes so realistically that a dove pecked at it with its beak. Since then, Western painters had been searching for ways of reproducing the physical world realistically. It could be imagined how painters despaired when photography made possible the reproduction of the physical world by merely snapping a shutter. However, photography set painters free from the realistic style. Many new styles of painting were brought to the art stage, more than any other era had before photography was invented. From the Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, which were still object-matter, to Constructivism— paintings became abstract, with shapes of vibrant colors and lines. Painters such as Kandinsky and Klee, started to 35-1. Exercise for color-theory course taught by Vasily Kandinsky. paint their spiritual world instead of the objective world.


36-1. The Bauhaus Building

36-2. The Bauhaus building, interior and chairs 36

By 1915, he had turned his back on nature and never again painted any objects. With abstract forms, he expressed the most various subjects from his imagination, poetry, music, literature, and his reactions to the world around him. In 1920, Gropius invited Klee to join the faculty of the Bauhaus.

versions of Fagus Factory building, being crystal-like rectangular buildings with flat roofs overlapping and intersecting each other. Enormous glass walls with narrow grid structure allowed an abundance of light. The Bauhaus buildings are still considered modernist style today. The Baohaus building used the primary color—red, blue and yellow as the interior color scheme, which was also applied to the Crystal Palace in 1851, by Owen Jones. But they didn’t need any debates on this decision as Jones had before.

The reason that Gropius invited abstract fine art painters to teach in the Bauhaus—the housing school--was because of his ahistorical perspective. He suggested that historical justifications for styles should be replaced with principles like Zeitgeist—spirit of the age, and The concept of industrial and architectural design of the Kunstwollen—the artist’s will to form. Gropius saw these Bauhaus echoed to the Crystal palace and people with principles in the abstract paintings of Kandinsky and Klee. great perspective ahead of their age. who had called for a solution to have “fine art or beauty applied to mechanical –Industrial and Architecture design production.” Though Henry Cole’s voice drowned in his time, but was recorded in the history of modernism. Gropius formulated guidelines for the principle of Industrial design: each design was only supposed to The Bauhaus was operated during 1919 to 1933, in three consist of a few simple parts, so that it could easily German cities—Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from be adapted to industrial production. They were to be 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933. It was closed designed as standard “types”, as a combination of simple under pressure from the Nazi regime. Most of its teachers elements and yet sufficient for all using requirements— left Germany and emigrated to other countries, and the very idea of “functionalism”. All industrial designs spread the spirit of the Bauhaus to the world. from the Bauhaus followed this principle. Less is more became a new type of aesthetics. However, not all of their industrial designs used straight linear outlines. If they need anything curvilinear, they would invent their own materials or methods to make them happen. Henry Cole’s idea about “fine art or beauty applied to mechanical production” was well fulfilled. There was never a department of architecture at the Bauhaus under Gropius. Bauhaus students worked in Gropius’s office, or Bauhaus workshops. When the Bauhaus was moved to Dessau, students and teachers together built their own school. The new buildings of the Bauhaus were recognized as a model of today’s architectural achievements. The consistent exploitation of the new materials and methods had enabled them to solve a major project with exemplary fashion. Most of the Bauhaus buildings were expanded and refined

37-1. The interior color scheme—yellow, red, blue


38-1. 3rd floor Bauhaus building, Dessau



Style is a specific or characteristic manner of expression, design, construction, or execution. Any design that truthfully represent their time and place would be considered good and successful.



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7-1. 8-1. 10-1. 11-1. 12-1. 13-1. 14-1. 15-1. 16-1. 17-1. 18-1. 20-1. 22-1. 22-2. photos from the Crystal Palace catalog published by the London Printing and Publish compnay 24-1. 24-2. 27-1. 27-1. 28-1.,_Industrie_und_Handel_Architektur_K%C3%B6ln_1914_Oct._Peter_Behrens_A._Molling_%26_Comp._KG_Hannover_Berlin.jpg 28-2. 30-1.,_Fagus_fabriek,_Alfeld-Leine_1910-14.jpg 31-1. 32-1. 33-1. photo shop from book Bauhaus 1919-1928 ISBN 0-87070-240-8 34-1.


34-2. 35-1. 36-1. 36-2. 37-1. 38-1.


Student: Wuhang Lin Typeface: Bembo(OTE) Instructor: Michael Kilgore GR 615 History of Graphic Design MFA Fall 2013

The crystal palace  

From the Crystal Palace to The Bauhaus.

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