Asssignment 3)

Albers, Josef — Preliminary Course exercises at the Bauhaus (1923–1933)

Figure 1. The Masters of the Bauhaus (1923),

The ideal teaching program at the Bauhaus, developed in 1922 by Walter Gropius. Extraordinary students got the opportunity to be admitted to the apprenticeship program. Their basic training, began with various experimentation with color, shape and material. From all around the world renowned avant-garde artists for the task of tutoring was selected at the Bauhaus, Josef Albers was included as one these artists. Josef Albers was a German born American artist and educator, He became the head of preliminary course at 1927. The true importance of craftsmanship and materials were enlightened from his 18 hours per week long workshops.

In his classes, he made the students use simple tools, rather than conventional one’s or machines to design utensils, containers etc. in order to familiarize students with the inherent properties of various materials such as metal, wood and paper and also gain the knowledge of design principles. The core focus of this ideology was on the development of spatial structures where students could correlate material, function and production technology with a minimum input of material, energy and time to produce an output with optimal performance. This taught means of visual organization; how students could read the meaning of form and order of various materials.

Figure 2. Josef Albers in Dessau studio, the picture on the wall is made by Albers himself. Photographed by Umbo

“Materials must be worked in such a way that there is no wastage: the chief principle is economy. The final form arises from the tension of cut and folded materials”- Josef Albers

Figure 3. Designs made from simple materials like paper, cardboard etc. by students at the Bauhaus workshop taught by Albers

Albers wanted his students to truly experience the best suited method to design a spatial structure for a particular material. I did research on the preliminary course at Bauhaus; reading through Bauhaus archives and started model making using simple unconventional materials. I started off with an a4 sized paper. As I started making my model, I realized it would be best to use a paper cut out method for paper as a model making material as, paper is soft so it is pretty difficult to make it stand. But I understood that if I fold it at the appropriate spot, paper can become rigid enough to stand on its narrow points; its edges. Thus, by making a stable standing 3D structure, it lost its plain and boring 2D exterior and its tired appearance.

Similarly I started iterating using different types of materials and its suitable model making techniques. For cardboard, it was difficult to use the folding technique as it is hard unlike paper, nevertheless I used a scalpel to cut the windows for cardboard and tried to minimize my folds. The various materials I used were colored paper, normal a4 paper, watercolor paper, cardboard of different thickness (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Iterations of models using simple materials such as color paper, watercolor paper, cardboard. Models made by Sumin Bajracharya. Photographed by Sumin Bajracharya

The iterations of my model are based on a spatial structure, Central park around UTS which I transformed using my artists technique (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Central Park. Photographed by Sumin Bajracharya

I designed a few levels using the technique students applied at the Bauhaus with color paper, which is a bit harder than normal A4 paper. I made 4 folds of the paper and created two valley’s and mountains. I cut indoor balconies using a blade. The reason behind constructing indoor balconies which are closer to the indoor facade of the opposite wall is because of the social context; which makes clients more interactive and communicative which I believe can benefit a place like central park mall, where social aspect plays a major role. Visitors can sit down at one balcony and feel like they’re connected to the other, visitors can also spend some leisure time after busy shopping, gazing at shops at a level below them in case they would like to do some more shopping. Overall, the social environment is enhanced with such type of design.

Figure 6. Final model, material color paper, using cut and fold technique. Photographed & designed by Sumin Bajracharya.

“Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature” — Josef Albers

The above quote really touched me as it has a profound meaning to the real worlds context. Abstraction for me is one element that represents several real things equally. When a particular abstract design is scrutinized, it represents several other aspects of the design, not just visual aspect but also the use of materials and how they can be used in an unconventional way and the different techniques that can be used to develop the design. Through abstraction the most intangible design in the world can be clarified, as everything abstract is part of the concrete, every inanimate aspects serves the living. Therefore, every activity dealing in abstraction serves to the living as a whole.

After applying the techniques the students used at the Bauhaus, I learned that it was possible for a designer to take advantage of any material to create a spatial structure, if they understand the material; how well it can be exploited; what are the suitable methods for the development.


Pictures found at

Text reference from
Prelimanary course exercise at Bauhaus

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