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Bauhaus, German at the time for literally, ‘School of Building’, was a pre-war art movement that combined architecture, fine art and crafts into one fiercely competitive design philosophy. Minimalist, economical and bound in pre-Nazi anxities, the Bauhaus movement was always doomed for a spectacular and controversial period of design law, and eventuated as a key player in 20th century architecture.










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The Bauhaus was founded in the city of Weimar by architect, Walter Gropius.

German nationalists criticize the organization and management of the school of Bauhaus.

First series of Bauhaus books appear, construction begins of the Bauhaus school in Dessau.

First issue of the Bauhaus magazinecreates international interest.





Gropius is director of Bauhaus products. While in charge, his most successful product at this time: Bauhaus wallpaper.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe becomes director. Theo van Doesburg writes his, “Manifesto of Art Concrete�.

Dessau school is shut down but the German government, but continues to function as a private institution.

700 people join in the bauhaus festival.


philosophy Gropius formulated a manifesto for the Bauhaus which started “The final goal of all artistic activity is architecture.” The Bauhaus principles are best summarized by Alfred Barr, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art 1938, in his preface to the book Bauhaus (edited by Gropius and Bayer):

• A school of design should have on its faculty the purely creative and disinterested artist such as the easel painter as a spiritual counterpoint to the practical technician in order that they may work and teach side by side for the benefit of the student. • Manual experience of materials is essential to the student of design- esperience at first confined to free experiment and then extended to the practical workshop. • The study of rational design in terms of techniques and materials should be only the first step in the development of a new and modern sense of beauty. • Because we live in the 20th century, the student 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, so that he may function in society not as a decorator but as a vital participant.


• Most students should face the fact that their future should be involved primarily with industry and mass production rather than with individual craftsmanship. • Teachers in schools of design should be men who are in advance of their profession rather than safely and academically in the rearguard. • Design schools should, as the Bauhaus did, bring together the various arts of painting, architechture, theatre, photography, weaving, typography, etc., into a modern synthesis which disregards conventional distinctions between the “fine” and “applied” arts. • It is harder to design a first-rate chair than to paint a second-rate painting and much more useful.

Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus school in Weimar Germany in 1919. He is the primary name associated with the Bauhaus and was the key person in shaping its philosophy. Johannes Itten’s contribution to visual communication was in the area of color. He wrote the book, “The Art of Color”. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy took over the preliminary basic course in 1923 after Itten left. He was involved with the de Stijl group, which was considered an opposing art movement. Josef Albers was involved in research on the emotional and perceptual impact of color, line and geometric forms. His contributions included developing methods of educational instruction. Herbert Bayer’s responsibility at the Bauhaus included typography and advertising techniques. Bayer also set up Bauhaus design exhibitions.





influence The ultralight drinking glasses from CB2; a wand-like toilet bowl brush from Muji; the pedestal Docksta table from Ikea set with woven vinyl Chilewich mats and surrounded by Jasper Morrison Air chairs: What do these elements of the fastidiously up-to-date kitchen have in common? They are the distant (and not so distant) offspring of the Bauhaus.


architecture “The building is the ultimate goal of all fine art,” the Bauhaus manifesto proclaimed back in 1919. Architecture training at the Bauhaus in Weimar was initially the prerogative of Walter Gropius private architectural practice and for a short time courses were run by his partner Adolf Meyer and in association with the “Baugewerkschule” (building trades school) in Weimar.




products While its instruction was deeply devoted to functionality, Bauhaus was one of the first proper design schools to set out and prove that functional need not be boring. With this, many of the Bauhaus’ most iconic and lasting designs emerged.


graphics & print What you can learn from the Bauhaus is to broaden your horizons, look for inspiration in the world around you. Magazine adverts, a store front, the side profile of a car in the street, the opening credits to a film – there are theories and principles all around us and it’s up to us to take a step back once in a while and see if any of them are applicable. You work in an agency? Go and see what the marketing guys are up to. If you’re a web designer, see what the print and packaging people are working on. You might see something that has absolutely no connection to the job you’re working on but it might set you off on a different trail of thought which leads to a great outcome for your project.



Designed by Megan Whinery for the Advanced Typography course of Columbia College Chicago.

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